“Drive Forward can help you to change your life, but you need to bring in some ambition and motivation!”

Fatima arrived in the UK in 2012, fleeing the ongoing political unrest and violent outbreaks in Guinea. “I was placed in foster care until the age of 16. I then moved into semi-independent living with a couple of other girls. When I turned 18 I moved into my own flat.”

The period between being in care and leaving care is crucial for young people. They need access to information and continuous support in order to successfully transition into independence.

“My social worker was really proactive and helped me a lot. For example, he told me that I had to make an appointment with the JobCentre to sign on ‘before’ my 18th birthday. Many young people don’t know that.”

It was also her social worker, who introduced her to Drive Forward.

“It would have been great to learn about Drive Forward earlier, probably as part of the leaving-care-procedure.”

At the time, Fatima was working as a waitress at Nandos, but she had bigger ambitions, “I’ve always been interested in finance and technology.” As part of the Professional Pathways course, she attended Aim Higher Days at Burberry and J. Walter Thompson, experiencing the buzzing environment of busy offices and meeting inspirational people. Fatima jumped at the chance of gaining some work experience at J. Walter Thompson.

“The work placement really boosted my confidence and motivation. Working with people who went to Oxford and Cambridge, who have plenty of life experience, made me realise that I too can aim higher.”

Role models and the ability to set realistic goals are immensely important for young people, helping them to find their path and purpose in life. Many care leavers, however, never have the opportunity to develop and grow their aspirations.

“In care you’re really cared for and everything is done for you. As soon as you get out of care, however, you’re on your own and it’s down to you to get up and look for opportunities.”

Fatima stayed alert, ready for her next opportunity, which would soon come her way. She successfully applied for a work placement with our then new partner American Express, diving into the world of international finance. Her biggest career challenge was yet to come. Right after completing her placement, Fatima took on the competitive application process for the sought-after Accenture Apprenticeship Programme.

“It was such a long application process. CV, covering letter, interview and then, the final stage – which I was most nervous about to be honest – was a group assessment and another 1-2-1 interview.”

The day after her final interview, Accenture called our offices to praise Fatima’s fantastic performance and attitude. She is now a Technology Apprentice, learning new skills from management, to coding and programming.