3:50pm Friday 10th May 2013 in By Michael Pickard
Jesse Peters founded Youth Prospects with help from The Prince's Trust
When Jesse Peters was sent to prison, it was the "lowest point" of his life.
But 13 years later, he is the founder of a successful youth organisation he established with help from The Prince’s Trust’s Enterprise programme.
The charity scheme, which is marking its 30th anniversary, supports young people hoping to set up their own businesses by providing low-interest loans and free mentoring assistance.
Here, Jesse, 33, from Tottenham, explains how The Prince’s Trust helped him turn his life around:
“Growing up in a single-parent family in Tottenham, my brother and I didn’t always have a lot. My mum was amazing and worked full-time to make sure we had a good place to live. She had several promotions at work and eventually became head of her department. Life was good thanks to her and I felt confident about my future.
“However, as a teenager I started hanging around with the wrong crowd and got mixed up in the gang culture that was around at the time. At the age of 20, I was sentenced to prison for 15 months. It was the lowest point in my life and I felt like I had let myself down completely.
“In prison I knew I had a choice to make – carry on the way I was or do something else. I realised I was wasting my life and that I didn’t have to be involved in gang culture to be a success. I knew deep down that I could make a change in my life if I was given the opportunity to prove myself.
“From my experiences in Haringey, many young people in the area didn’t have support at home so looked to get it from gangs instead. I wanted to provide a place where young people could get support through sport and could focus on making themselves successful.
“It was in prison that I came across two women from The Prince’s Trust. They were running a course called the Enterprise programme, which helps young people get the support and funding to start their own business.
“I was released from prison after eight months and it was then I set about changing my life. With the support I received from The Prince’s Trust I wrote a business plan to start a local youth organisation.
“The aim was to engage young people through sport to keep them off the streets and away from crime, while giving them the skills to better their lives. Thanks to a loan and a business mentor I received from the trust, my dream became a reality when the Haringey Warriors Youth Organisation launched at the Selby Centre in Tottenham in 2001.
“The organisation initially focused on engaging young people in Haringey through one of my big passions – basketball. The basketball team we set up was a big success and as a result, we managed to get further funding to employ people so we could run other sports teams. Not only do we run boys and girls’ basketball teams, we now also run dance classes.
“However, the organisation is not only about sport. More importantly, we also run programmes and workshops to teach young people life skills while building up their confidence and self-esteem so they can find education and work and hope to change their lives for the better.
“In 2010, we changed our name to Youth Prospects to better reflect the work we do and thanks to support from the Big Lottery Fund, we have grown as an organisation supporting youngsters in seven London boroughs, as well as Essex.
“Looking back, The Prince’s Trust gave me a chance to change my life and if it wasn’t for them I really don’t know where I would be now. I now have a fantastic business and a future I could never have imagined 13 years ago. I now hope Youth Prospects can continue helping young people for years to come.”
The Prince’s Trust is launching an online high street – Enterprise Avenue – on its website to map Prince’s Trust businesses across the UK.
If your business was supported by The Prince's Trust, go to www.princes-trust.org.uk/30Enterprise to get your business on the map.