A woman who battled to turn her life around after finding herself homeless as a teenager has won a prestigious royal award.

Charlie Burley, 20, from Brighton, was supported by the Prince’s Trust youth charity after her life began to spiral out of control five years ago.

She has now won the American Express Breakthrough Award at The Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards.

The award recognises young people who have developed new skills to enable them to face their challenges and stabilise their lives.

At 15, Ms Burley’s difficult childhood led to her becoming homeless and she developed an erratic lifestyle of sofa-surfing with friends.

She eventually found sheltered accommodation at her local YMCA but struggled at school, leaving with only one GCSE.

She then joined The Prince’s Trust Team programme, provided by City College Brighton and Hove, which helps disadvantaged young people gain the skills and confidence they need to turn their lives around.

Team player

Ms Burley found it difficult to settle and integrate into the programme at first but eventually her shyness wore off and she became one of its strongest team members.

She also ended up being asked for guidance and support by her peers.

As her confidence built up with the help from the trust, Ms Burley found a work placement at a local college for disabled children.

She said: “Meeting people more disadvantaged than myself made me realise I didn’t want to ruin my life.”

Ms Burley went on to secure an apprenticeship with her local Job Centre where she is now often asked to deliver presentations about the Prince’s Trust.

Road to success

She is now well on the road to developing a successful career and due to start an Open University course soon.

Ms Burley said: “I enjoyed the public training workshop and feel more confident about talking in front of people now.

“I’ve been through a lot but The Prince’s Trust has helped me to turn everything around.

“Winning this award shows how far I’ve come and I’m looking forward to getting my career started.”

Colin Walsh, executive vice president at American Express Europe, said: “On behalf of all at American Express I would like to congratulate Charlie for winning this award. Charlie has come a long way and I’d like to wish her the very best for their future.”

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