At the age of 16, Aisa Ali was homeless and sleeping in the stands of a rugby club as it was the warmest place she could find.
Things were so bad after her parents split that she tried to take her own life, and at 17 she was an alcoholic drinking a litre of vodka a day and taking drugs.
But an intervention by foster parents and the Prince’s Trust helped Aisa to turn her life around.
Six years later, not only is she holding down a job, but she is also set to win the Watches of Switzerland Group Young Ambassador Award, in partnership with the Daily Mirror, at today’s Prince’s Trust Awards.
The 22-year-old said: “I feel completely honoured and humbled and I’d tell anyone who may be struggling to always believe that there’s a better life than what you’re living right now.
“Everyone should join the Prince’s Trust – it saved my life.”
Growing up, Aisa was a happy kid until her parents split when she was 11.
She developed mental health issues, her relationship with her mum spiralled, and she was thrown out when she was 16.
She said: “I got home one day and all of my stuff was in a bag in the garden.”
After being homeless for four months she was placed with foster carers but she then ran away to move in with her boyfriend who was 10 years older.
Aisa said: “I started drinking and taking drugs every single day. I’d drink at least a litre of straight vodka.”
When the relationship ended, Aisa moved back in with her foster parents.
At the job centre she heard about the 12-week Prince’s Trust programme, which combined learning teamwork skills with a residential programme and work placements.
She formed a close bond with team leader Abby Heath, who she calls her “second mum”, and was offered a job as a logistics co-ordinator.
The experience had given her a sense of independence and had made her a lot more confident, she said.
“Everyone thought I’d be a drug addict or an alcoholic for the rest of my life but I’ve proved them wrong.”
Now Aisa, who lives independently in Leicestershire with her cat, is dedicated to sharing her story with other young people via her YouTube channel.
And she has even met Prince Charles.
She said: “I got to tell him my story and thanked him personally for setting up such an amazing trust. He told us to embrace our individuality and never let anyone take it away.”
The future is positive, she says, adding: “I just want to be happy and spread positivity. That’s the most important thing.”
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