Aged just thirteen years old Michelle became an orphan. Her father, who had raised her on his own after her mother died when she was a baby, passed away after suffering a stroke. For years Michelle had juggled her schooling with caring for her father through long periods of ill health. Life changed for her in an instant.

Despite family encouraging her to move ‘home’ to Israel where her father was buried, Michelle chose to remain in London: “My whole life was in London, all my friends, everything…I love my family to bits but I couldn’t see myself living there.” After a year of wrangling with the authorities, funding was found to enable Michelle to live with one of her father’s cousins.

Having finished her education and needing to stand on her own two feet, Michelle began applying for jobs. “I love acting and it would be brilliant to pursue that as a career but it’s not stable and I need to be able to pay my rent so I started applying for literally any job going. I had applied for hundreds of roles, from admin to childcare, because I needed an income but I just wasn’t getting anywhere.”

Michelle’s Leaving Care Team told her about Drive Forward and its work to help young care leavers into sustainable employment, and within a week her social worker had made an appointment for her to join. She came in for an initial induction and was allocated a case worker: “I told her about myself and the sort of job I was looking for, and how difficult I had been finding it to even get a reply from some people, let alone feedback.”

With her caseworker’s guidance, Michelle set about improving the look and content of her CV and she attended some of the skills sessions Drive Forward holds: “I did a four-week long money management course which made me more aware of what I spent my money on and how I can budget better. That sort of thing is really important to me; my friends have their parents to fall back on but I don’t have that. I need to be able to look after my money.”

Michelle passed the course, gaining an NVQ Level I in the process, and was able to add the achievement to her new-look CV. She is now looking into apprenticeships in the events management industry and has got through to the second round of interviews with a well-known TV company.

She’s also continuing to pursue her acting dreams and has been invited to an audition workshop for RADA’s Youth Company.

“Drive Forward helps disadvantaged teenagers get into work, training or even Uni but it also gives you extra life skills that are really important. Young people like me are really trying hard to find work but without this kind of support it is very, very difficult.”

“I am very hard on myself but I’m proud of what I am doing with Drive Forward’s help. I’m sure that by changing the whole look and set-up of my CV that’s what has helped me to get some interviews. It’s also great that there are opportunities for me to continue acting and fit it around work.”