Norwich man wins royal award after turning his life around

Billy Harper. PIC: Submitted.

Billy Harper. PIC: Submitted. - Credit: Archant

A Norwich man who turned his life around after being addicted to drugs has won royal recognition for the transformation.

Billy Harper, 20, feared he might end up in prison after turning to drugs after being kicked off a college course but instead he has a bright future ahead of him.

He is set to receive a young achievers award at The Prince's Trust and TK Maxx & HomeSense Awards in the Central East region later this month.

And the award, which recognises the achievements of disadvantaged young people who have succeeded against the odds and improved their chances in life, is testament to just how far he has come.

Billy suffered from ADHD as a child and after getting bullied at college became so desperate to fit in that he got in with the wrong crowd.

He bunked off lessons in the afternoon to take drugs and was eventually kicked off the course and told not to return for the second year.

Feeling like the world was against him Billy sought solace in drugs and soon became addicted.

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He said: 'I ended up stealing and getting into fights. I got so depressed I started self-harming. It was the only way I could cope.'

It was during this time that Billy heard about Get into Construction with The Prince's Trust, a programme which gives unemployed young people the skills they need to find work in the industry.

Billy enjoyed the course and later enrolled on the Prince's Trust Get into Retail programme with Marks & Spencer called Make Your Mark which supports unemployed young people to gain experience to help them to secure a job in retail.

He said: 'I was so nervous about interacting with customers and I physically shook if they asked me anything. The person I was buddied with was brilliant though, and helped me get used to store life.'

At the end of the programme, Billy was offered a job at M&S and now works full time as well as supporting other young people on the Make Your Mark scheme.

He said: 'Being offered a job at M&S meant everything to me.'

He added: 'I would never have been able to accept my job without the grant from The Prince's Trust. Honestly, The Prince's Trust has helped me change my life. I'd probably be locked up in a prison cell if it wasn't for them.'

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