Young Larne man scoops accolade after turning life around with support from Prince’s Trust
Paul Laverty (23) picked up the L’Oréal Paris Rising Star Award after showing incredible determination to secure employment, increase his self-worth and
overcome a turbulent time in his life.
The accolade recognises a young person who, having built up their confidence and skills, has overcome barriers to secure and recently start employment or education or training.
Paul is working full-time in a job that he loves, building a sustainable career and supporting his family. However, after having trouble finding stable employment when he finished school and with few opportunities around him, he lacked self-worth and was struggling mentally.
Detailing his experiences, Paul said: “My school days were tough. I’d a lot going on at home and was also diagnosed with ADHD and a learning difficulty.
"I joined The Trust’s Achieve course at school which helped a lot, and I was determined to concentrate and work hard.
"I gained some qualifications but struggled to find a stable job in a town where opportunities felt limited. I spent hours handing out applications but never got any responses.
“Before getting involved with The Prince’s Trust for the second time in my early twenties, I’d lost my job because of the pandemic – my mental health was worsening and I was being led down the wrong path.
"I felt like I didn’t want to be here. I was expecting a baby with my partner but, after being arrested, I missed our first scan. It was the moment I realised I needed to change my life. I thought to myself, I don’t want to do this anymore.”
Paul’s probation worker told him about a hospitality programme being run by The Trust and he hasn’t looked back since.
He added: “The programme sounded interesting and I knew I’d to give it a shot - I’d a baby on the way and wanted to support my family. I felt really nervous but as soon as I arrived on the first day, those feelings vanished. Everyone was so welcoming and it made me sure that I wanted to pursue this and push myself.”
As part of the programme, Paul did a work placement in the kitchens of the Ballygally Castle Hotel.
He impressed everyone with his attitude and willingness to learn and he was offered a temporary contract. This soon turned into a permanent, full-time role – a life-changing moment for Paul.
Paul explained: “Having a steady income and being able to put food on the table means everything to me. Waking up knowing I’ve a job to go to is so motivating and I hope to develop in my role at Ballygally.
“Without this course, I wouldn’t have found my love of working in a kitchen. It has helped me decide on my future career and built my self-confidence. I’d love to help with more cooking.
“I’d definitely encourage anyone else who is feeling lost to reach out to The Prince’s Trust. You have nothing to lose, and it might just change your life.
“Winning this award means so much. I didn’t think people would believe in me but now I can see how far I’ve come.”