Prince’s Trust - keeping Teams alive in lockdown

Thursday 15 April 2021

A traditional Prince’s Trust Team 12 week format has been adapted by The Bedford College Group to meet Covid changes.

The new model piloted during 2020, saw young people take a four-week online course, followed by a face-to-face course when the colleges opened up in the September term, leading to a qualification. That pattern was repeated in 2021 with four-week courses in January and March, and then face-to face-activities when Bedforshire and Northamptonshire college campuses re-opened.

Delivered by The Bedford College Group staff from Bedford, Northampton North and Northampton South, Kettering and Wellingborough, the new model Teams of ten completed 80 hours of the programme over the initial four week period.

The Prince’s Trust courses, pioneered by Tresham College in Northants, now run across the whole Group, have proven a fresh start for many young people aged 16+ who have fallen out of education or not succeeded in employment. Often depressed, or disadvantaged, these young people go on to college courses or employment.

During the extended periods of isolation suffered by teens and twenties during Covid, these challenges have been exaggerated.

Link to sign up for a Prince’s Trust course via




Success story

One success story is “S”  who is now employed by a leading health provider.

Head of Adult and Community Learning at The Bedford College Group Cheryl Needham said:

S is a shining example of a young person who has been helped every step of the way by our fantastic team. Senior Team Leader Paul Hamblin and Development Worker Hayley Mason-Walker are here to make a real difference to the life chances of young people in these challenging times.

Here is her story:

I am 19 years old and this is my personal statement. I have had anxiety for 3 years but severely for just under 2.  My anxiety started to increase when I was in an unhealthy relationship; during this relationship I was always put down about my weight and my looks and this had a big impact on me. Months went on and my Mum could see a big change in the person I had become. I stayed in, didn’t go anywhere or see anyone.  I didn’t go to work because I was always anxious. I have always struggled keeping jobs because I let my mental health get the better of me. 

In early June (2019) I was in a very dark place, I overdosed because I did not feel like I had a purpose. I was so scared of the person I was becoming that it just was not healthy anymore, I was so unhappy with myself and the choices I had made. I felt lost and alone even when I had such strong support from my family.  I was causing arguments thinking I was right when really, I was mostly wrong.  The constant negatives took over the positives and everyday was a struggle to even feel ok. This caused a lot of disagreements at home because my Mum was trying to help me break the cycle of doing the same thing. [She] never gave up on me even when I gave her so many reasons to.  No one should every have to go through what I've put her through.

After numerous meetings with CAMS, councillors and therapist I was given lots of websites, leaflets and drop-ins if I ever felt like that again. 

Early January (2020) Mum found Prospects* where I was offered a position on the Prince's Trust course.  The course started on the 13th, which was only a few days away.  I didn’t feel confident enough to jump right in at the deep end so I told myself I couldn’t physically do it and as per usual I didn’t attend.  After the course had started, I realised that I had missed the chance to change my life from a negative to a positive. I spent months with help from my family trying to set a routine of getting up and going out even if it was around the field, something was better than nothing and little achievements were massive to me. In May I had a phone call from Julie at Prospects.  I asked her for any information on any courses that may be available.  That’s when she told me about the Prince’s Trust digital 4-week course.

The course helped me feel more motivated.  This was because each week we set ourselves targets and achieved them. I enjoyed achieving my targets; the walks before morning briefings to clear any negativity and worry really helped me start the day in a positive way and became proud of myself for putting myself in situations I would normally run from, like offering to go first on our presentation with Tresham College’s Cheryl Needham. 

Completing the 4 week course gave me the confidence to take part in the Level 1 12-week course which started in September 2020.

On the first day of joining at Northampton North Team 65 I was standing outside the entrance of the room in floods of tears, my anxiety had kicked in; all of a sudden it was a reality that I was about to make a massive step. I knew that if I didn’t take this first step I would fall back into a dark place and this would have result of potentially feeling suicidal again. 

Team Leader Paul Hamblin noticed that I was hesitating to come into the room.  He came out and persuaded me to come in and I am so glad he did. I am proud to say that as of today I have had 100% attendance.  I arrive each morning at 8am and complete all of my work to a high standard. I developed my confidence during the course by completing all team activities in week 2.  I developed my leadership skills by supporting team members when completing their learning records.

My anxiety has not gone away, but I have learned coping strategies to prevent it from stopping me achieving my goals.  This is one of my proudest achievements I have always wanted to work in care, but I never had the self-belief to go ahead and do it.

My favourite part of the course has been my 2-week work placement as it proved to me that I was truly ready for the world of work.

I found the next steps stages of the programme to be the most useful parts as I was able to produce a CV that enabled me to gain an interview at Avery care.  My mock interviews let me demonstrate my skills and abilities.

I am proud to say I am now a full-time employment, this would not have been possible without the help and support of my senior team leader Paul Hamblin, for pushing me to achieve my goals by encouraging me and supporting all of our team to be the best we can be, and Thank You to our development worker Hayley-Mason Walker.  

I would like to say a massive thank you to Tresham College, part of The Bedford college Group for delivering a programme that can truly change a young person’s life.


Julie Tomlinson
Choices Adviser, at Prospects part of Shaw Trust, said:

“I first met with S when she attended a Prospects Careers Service drop-in with her Mum in January 2020.  S had been unemployed since completing a one-year course at college the previous year. She had developed anxiety issues and lacked confidence is her own abilities. We discussed options including the Prince’s Trust course that would enable her to rebuild her self-esteem and give her the opportunity to build up her skills and abilities. She was referred to Paul Hamblin and it was hoped that she would start the 12 weeks course the following week, but S felt unable to go through with it when the course started.  

“I kept in touch with S, encouraging her to do something positive to build up her confidence and it was during the first lockdown with support from Prospects and her family that S decided to take part in the 4-week online course with the Prince’s Trust helping her to build up her knowledge and confidence. We spoke during the 4-week course and it was going well, she still felt anxious about doing the 12 weeks but felt that the short course had enabled her to feel more self-assured in herself, what she could achieve and around others.  S completed the 4-week course in July 2020, and it was going to be a few months before she knew if the 12-week course would go ahead with all the issues around the pandemic and the need to social distance but during this time S kept herself positive by taking part in other online courses before starting with Paul Hamblin on the 12-week Development course in September 2020.  Her time with the other learners and Paul Hamblin has benefitted S greatly, she is now more positive, believes in herself and what she can do which led to her successfully gaining an Apprenticeship in social care.  I wish her every success for the future.”

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