2020 Winner

Reece Hayes


Overcame a traumatic childhood and mental health problems to dedicate himself to helping others.

Since it was founded in 1976, the Prince’s Trust has helped a million young people get their lives on track.

Reece Hayes from Glasgow is one of their most remarkable success stories, overcoming a traumatic childhood to dedicate himself to helping others.

Reece’s story is truly inspirational. He struggled to cope as a young carer, and his life was thrown further into turmoil when his mum witnessed a killing, and the family were moved into witness protection.

Reece said: “I was a carer for my mum since I was 11. It could be very manic and difficult to deal with because of the challenges around poor mental health.

“Eventually the cracks started to show; I got into fights at school, I was depressed, and filled with hatred.”

Realising that living at home was only exacerbating the problem, Reece moved out and spent five months in a homeless unit before securing his own tenancy. Yet despite this change in living situation, he still found it difficult to cope.

“I went clubbing all the time, I drank, got into fights, got arrested. I was suicidal and didn’t care what happened to me.

“Then one day, I’d had enough. After narrowly missing a jail sentence, I got a mental health assessment, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, given medication and support from a counsellor, and referred to The Prince’s Trust.”

That was the moment Reece’s life changed. He won a place on Get into Retail, a Prince’s Trust programme giving unemployed young people the skills and experience they need to find work.

He said: “Getting that chance to change meant everything and after the course I got a job with Tesco and was then invited to be a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador.

“Talking at events about my life and about theTrust and the issues facing young people felt good. It made me feel proud of how far I’ve come. I now see my career in mental health. I want to draw on my experiences to help others.”

Since then Reece has shared his story with other young people, politicians and charities to help them learn from his experiences. He volunteered with prisoners to help them cope after release, and worked with the Scottish government, police and councils to change the way they work with young people leaving care.

He is now studying for a social work degree and working with adults with disabilities.