Return to Learning Award 2021

Kirsty Young

2021 National Winner

Kirsty experienced personal trauma and turmoil from a young age and had little contact from the outside world. Following many years of trying to turn her life around, Kirsty took a leap of faith back into education at East Riding College and she hasn’t looked back since.

I met a man 12 years my senior whilst undertaking work experience at aged 14. I went on to suffer from domestic, psychological and financial abuse for five years, being isolated and controlled. I finally sought help from a family priest, and I returned home to my parents who encouraged me to go back into education at East Riding College. I started doing a Level 1 course in Health and Social Care in 2007, and four years later I started my university course. More recently I completed a Level 2 course on understanding children and young people’s mental health and also completed training in mental health first aid with MHFA England.

My initial motivation for learning was to try and build some self-esteem and understand my role in society after so many years in isolation. I wanted to provide a future for my children with security and opportunities. As I progressed, my motivation and hopes were to succeed in education so I could work in a role supporting young people that had come from challenging backgrounds, to help them succeed in life and achieve their best outcomes.

Learning has truly transformed my life and has provided me with a positive outlook on life, something I didn’t see possible before. The qualifications have enabled me to gain employment and I am now pursuing a career as a teacher to support those who have additional needs and start my PGCE in September 2021.

Shahida Aslam, director of operations at Helena Kennedy Foundation, said: ‘Kirsty has been a great ambassador for HKF. She is a prime example of those who choose to give back to others through her sponsored walks. We are very proud of all her achievements’.