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'I've come a long way since this time last year'

The ongoing work with young people being done by Oxfordshire charity Thrive acclaimed in the 2012 Inspire Awards has been underlined this week by the story of one 16-year-old …

The ongoing work with young people being done by Oxfordshire charity Thrive acclaimed in the 2012 Inspire Awards has been underlined this week by the story of one 16-year-old …

Last Monday, Patrick began a new apprenticeship. It’s an amazing achievement for this 16-year-old from Barton who hasn’t had it easy in life.

But it didn’t always look like it was going to turn out this way.


“It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was starting a new term in school,” says Patrick. “I talked about becoming an accountant, but my maths results weren’t good. I got into trouble with the teachers a lot.”

“Once when I felt that one of the teachers was giving me a hard time I picked up the phone in his classroom and called for someone to put him in detention!”

Patrick’s school tried everything they could to help him with his behaviour. But when things got too difficult, they suspended him from school every Wednesday to give him a chance to cool down.

“Even though I’d decided to become a Christian a few years ago, I was finding it hard to live the way I felt I should,” says Patrick. “So I asked Thrive to help me understand the Bible.”

Patrick is the first Christian in his family of seven. He struggled to understand his Bible; a huge, black-leather King James version. So after Christmas, Patrick met weekly with a Thrive volunteer to read the Bible and pray.

“One time we saw one of my teachers in Caffé Nero,” recalls Patrick. “When I told her I was a Christian and reading the Bible, she looked stunned!”

School remained difficult for Patrick, and he didn’t really know what to do on his compulsory Wednesdays off. Then in March, he started work experience in the Thrive office.

“It was strange because I found it easier to get out of bed in the mornings to go to the office, than I did to go to school. It seemed to get the best out of me.”

The Patrick in the office was unrecognisable from the Patrick at school. On one of the last days of term, Patrick and a few friends took things too far and caused chaos in the school.

It was the last straw.

“My mum got a letter to say that I could only come back to school to do my GCSE exams and even then, only if I was accompanied by an adult.”

When Patrick’s mum couldn’t take him because she couldn’t leave his younger brother nor afford all the bus fares, volunteers stepped up to accompany him to his exams.

Despite his end-of-term setback, Thrive has seen Patrick grow and mature through their Young Leaders programme and his weekly one-to-ones reading the Bible. In the weeks before his exams, he knuckled down, motivated to get the grades he needed.

And Thrive staff celebrated with Patrick on the day that his exam results came out – he got the C in Maths that he needed. The next week, an apprenticeship interview finished with a job offer.

And last Monday, he started work for an accountancy firm.

“I’ve bought my first suit. And I’m enjoying my first proper job.

“It feels like I’ve come a long way since this time last year.”

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