Caprice's Story Being a Young Leader for Changing Our Lives was one of the best experiences I have ever had! Growing up I’ve always been very opinionated, however I was always quite shy to speak out. This changed for the better when I began 'Rights for All', a ground breaking leadership development programme, which really boosted my confidence to voice not only my own opinions, but also other young people’s opinions. It also helped me build a network of friends across the West Midlands, it was brilliant to be around other inspirational young people with similar experiences to me, it made me feel comfortable to share my personal story and experiences. As a group of young leaders, I felt we’ve really made a difference through the work we did, from making the Local Offer more accessible for young people using short video clips to explain what services provide, to a practice development session Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) about how to work in coproduction with young people! I struggled to accept who I am growing up, and I always doubted myself. Slowly, step by step, through working with Changing Our Lives, that changed, and I started to believe I could make it into the university I always wanted to – which was Manchester Metropolitan. Setting my sights high and hoping my grades would be good enough to get in I applied and three short weeks later I had my offer! I sat my exams, and to my surprise I got in! Months of revision had paid off, I am now officially a Manchester Law School student. This means I can follow my dreams of being a barrister and a much greater goal of Attorney General (you have to dream big!!!!!) Going to uni is just the next chapter in my life, without Changing Our Lives I wouldn’t have been able to make sure a big leap to move so far away from everyone I know, and live amongst all new people in a new environment. But now I see it as such a big adventure, although also so daunting to think i’ll actually be a grown up with bills to pay in a few days time. I’m literally packing my entire life and moving hours away from my family and friends, it really is something I’m looking forward to and the challenges of learning new things and living with people from all different backgrounds and lifestyles is so interesting. Obviously freshers week is going to be so exciting!!! I can not express my thanks enough to every single one of the young leaders and staff team in supporting me through this journey to a new part of my life, it honestly wouldn’t have been the same, and I wouldn’t be the same without them. It just shows that no matter what a person’s start in life they can achieve their dreams. LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN!!! Reflecting back on her journey in January 2018, these are Caprice’s thoughts: Wow, it feels so strange reading this back now I’m half way through my last year of my degree and seeing how far I’ve come. Since I wrote this, I managed to get through numerous pieces of coursework, and grueling exam seasons. I managed to build upon my confidence even more, make so many new friends, go on some amazing adventures, and stand up and present legal arguments in a room full of people and achieve a good grade, something I never thought I could do (had to squeeze something academic into this, it wasn’t all fun haha!) I remember my first time in the massive lecture hall I now spend half my time in, I fell and stumbled and I was a little late as usual. Thankfully I bumped into a girl who is now one of my best friends, just as lost and nervous as I was. I plucked up the courage to ask who she was sitting with at lunch just like in primary school. It might not seem like much but back then it felt like I’d jumped across the Grand Canyon. The truth is everyone is just as nervous to make friends. Having the confidence to just offer someone a pen can lead to a friendship at uni. I’m so grateful for the leadership programme I was a part of, because truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have the group of friends I do now, if I hadn’t been given the confidence to talk to the random girl sat next to me in a lecture. Or present a legal argument in front a room full of people, on camera and achieve a first class mark. Sure, there were tears before and a bit of self-doubt but pushing through that I learnt I could achieve everything I ever wanted. Along the way I got myself a part time job too, to push myself even more and be truly independent in Manchester, so I could spend my summers here making more memories with the girls, going for brunch, or parties and concerts. Sure having to speak to strangers was a daunting concept at first but I managed and I’ve made even more friends on the way. Looking back, I had just turned 18 when I left home for Manchester, I was still so unsure of myself and still working on being myself, my mum was my backbone, and I had moments where I truly crumbled to pieces by myself. I’m nearly 21 now, and I could not recognize the girl I used to be. Sometimes she comes out every now and again when I have 3000 words to write and 48 hours to do it in, but that’s normal. I can go out, talk to who ever I want and not feel nervous, I’m sure of what I want now and that if I truly put my mind to it I can do it. It all started with the Rights for All leadership programme ran by Changing Our Lives. It may sound scary to me but I’m an ‘adult’ now, not just legally but actually, prepared for life, with a job, paying bills, my own flat without the need for my mom to be my constant support and the ability to go out and meet new people, and not have a knot in my stomach over whether I’ll say the wrong thing, or cry at the fact I have to talk to strangers. It takes practice to be confident and speak your mind, you may not feel it sometimes. But being myself really saved me in so many different ways. I’m still studying away and learning to juggle, essays, work, friendships and life like everyone else. I’m now half way through the last year of my degree and will be graduating in July (fingers crossed) and in the middle of applying for my Masters in Law and the Bar Practice Course, and moving onto another new step in my education. This time with an amazing group of friends and faith in myself that I can achieve what I want and need to for my future, something when I first wrote what I said above all those years ago, I never thought I’d ever have, but here I am, proving myself wrong, ready to take on the whole of Greater Manchester (one step at a time).