The homeless Sunderland teenager who turned her life around

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A TEENAGER who turned her life around with help from The Prince’s Trust has won a prestigious award at the charity’s annual ceremony.

Jenna Sams, of Sunderland city centre, was named winner of the Samsung Young Achiever of the Year Award at The Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.

The 19-year-old was placed in a hostel after becoming homeless and her life began to take a downward spiral, leading to self-harm and an attempted overdose.

She said: “It was the scariest time of my life. I felt incredibly lonely and there was no one to support me.”

Jenna then joined The Prince’s Trust Get into Contact Centre programme, which helps unemployed young people find jobs in the customer service industry.

Thanks to the programme, she is now six months into an apprenticeship with Barclays and has found her own accommodation.

She said: “I know it’s a cliché, but the programme honestly changed my life. It gave me hope and something to look forward to. I love my job, and have a whole different life now with a group of friends that feel like family.”

Other young people honoured at the ceremony, which took place at Sage Gateshead, were Courtney Schakel, 22, of Silksworth, who was named runner-up for the RBS Enterprise Award and Callum Gach, 16, of Washington, who was named runner-up for the Teesside University Educational Achiever of the Year Award.

After being unemployed for 14 months, Courtney set up her own dog grooming business, Gorgeous and Handsome Pet Grooming, which is doing well.

Callum won plaudits for working upon his confidence which was so low, he was too afraid to answer questions in class at Oxclose Community Academy.

He joined a Prince’s Trust programme designed to improve the confidence and motivation of young people who are struggling at school.