"When I first came to Spear, I just remember being overcome with anxiety. I couldn't get over the dreaded feeling of having to speak up and present in front of people, even a small group. And now, five weeks later, I feel, my confidence and communication is one of, if not my biggest, strength."

Nav* 2023 Cohort 1

"Before Spear I struggled because I grew up in an abusive household. My parents were very abusive. That affected my mental health. I didn't like to socialise with people, I didn't like speaking with people.

I got referred to Spear from New Horizon, but I didn't really want to come and needed convincing. Because I didn't like speaking to people, I said I didn't want to do it.

But I came, the first two weeks if I'm honest I spoke to nobody, I kept to myself. My coach made me do a group presentation, I was pushed out of my comfort zone. But then, I got sick - I had minor heart attack which was very devastating. I had to drop out.

While I was recovering, I felt like I was failure - like I'd made so much progress but now was back to square one. But in life, things happen, there's things you can't control - but it's how you get up, and start again. I decided to start back with the Spear Programme, and to come in with a positive attitude.

From that first week, everyone in the room could tell you I had an 'all or nothing' mindset, I was up for challenges, went for it. Then, my coach challenged me to lead the group icebreaker. Can you imagine - me, never speaking to people, to now leading an icebreaker with 13 people. That was big for me.

Then, there was an interview opportunity in hospitality. I said I wanted to do it. After I did that, I got a call, saying all the recruiters said I had a great personality, and was a hard worker - and to keep it up. All of the job offers I have are from the back of that interview. I now have so many options, I have to make a decision on which job to go for!"

Michelle* 2023 Cohort 1

* names changed to preserve anonymity