"I was 18, unemployed, and caught in the no-benefit trap. I was unable to receive benefits until September as my mother was still getting child benefit for me. For the next six months my life revolved around signing on, looking for work, getting knockbacks, and being disillusioned with my life.
"My lowest point was when I applied for a job as a trainee. The interview went well but I was unsuccessful. Then I got a phone call asking me if I could take a job. My excitement was short-lived when they called back to say there was not a job after all.
"It was February 1996 and I spotted an advert for the Prince's Trust Volunteers. I was attracted because they ran a first-aid course and my benefits would not be affected.
"I joined the team in Govan, Glasgow. My team was 13 unemployed and two employed people, and none of us had ever met before. By the end of the week we were planning the residential week on the banks of Loch Tay where we took part in rafting, canoeing, archery and team building exercises.
"I felt I was learning a lot about myself and my character. I became more confident and realised I wasn't a tolerant person - I am now.
"My experience as a volunteer has changed my views, attitude and opinion of the future. I feel these 12 weeks will pay off - not just in the near future but long-term."Reuse content