graphic doodle of an open notebook

Chelsea’s story

Project Apollo was an award-winning, three-year programme, supporting 100 care leavers into education training and employment.

Project Apollo was close to my heart because of my own experiences of the care system and as a care leaver. I’ve always wanted to improve the experiences, and challenge the stereotypes of, looked-after children.

The project gave care-experienced young people the chance to build trusted relationships. This is so important, as many have lacked stability, consistency and having someone actually care about them.

At the end of Project Apollo it was incredible looking back on the journeys of each person. Things didn’t always go to plan, but the main thing was to remind the young people that they are unique and they are cared about.

One person I was working with wanted to become a mental health nurse, but with their own mental health diagnoses and being supported by mental health services, they didn’t believe they’d be able to. Of course, I asked, “why not?”

We would often refer to our ‘why not?’ conversation, and in time it became “If I can do it and break the cycle, then so can you”.

There were points when this young person was in crisis and I was speaking to them daily, often chasing mental health services and liaising with their college to make sure that they stayed on their course.

Then one day, they decided that they didn’t want to see me anymore. I understood, I really did. The young person consented to services keeping me updated. It’s just that knowing that Project Apollo was going to end, they wanted to choose to leave, rather than having to leave. I often contacted their Personal Advisor to see how they were getting on. I was so proud to find out that they passed at college and are now doing a mental health foundation degree.

Chelsea Wilkins, Employment Coach