Holly's Story

At secondary school I wasn’t really a talkative person. I got bullied. I was very quiet and timid. For a whole year I didn’t really say much. I was anxious. And I was scared I was going to get bullied for coming out, and I did get bullied. I was jealous because everyone else had a lot of friends. But friends can get you hurt. So I didn’t have that many friends, I won’t lie. Because I didn’t really talk, I was on my own a lot.

The environment at XLP was different. I felt safe at XLP.

I found out about XLP when I was quite young, I was probably 13. I was part of an Arts Showcase and they gave me a little space to do some freestyle dancing. I was really nervous before as I had people staring at me because I was the youngest there.

XLP have done a really good job with the showcases because it definitely boosted my confidence and helped me communicate more. The way they spoke to me made me think, ‘Wow! They actually believe in me’.

When I did more Arts Showcases, I wasn’t nervous anymore because I knew the feeling. I’ve won two of them! And that gave me a proper motivation to look at myself positively. It made me confident and want to do more.

When I dance I don't think about anything, I just let my heart out. My mum’s always excited to see my performances and that’s just such a nice feeling because you want to make her proud. So it’s great!

But my most powerful moment with XLP was going sailing in Scotland with the Ready to Work programme. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never been away for seven days. I’ve never been on a plane. I was straight out of my comfort zone. I was so scared. I had promised myself I would never go on the plane, but I did. I overcame my fears because the trip leader, Ian, proper motivated me and was like ‘you can do it!’

At the end of the programme, I got an interview to be an Apprentice with XLP. I had to work hard for that interview and I got it!

Being on the XL-Sports Apprenticeship has taken my confidence and communication skills to another level. I can do things I could never do. I was so bad at writing. Now I have Steven and Michael’s support. They help me write, grow and be more independent.

We have to do registers; I never would have been able to do that. Now I'm doing them on my own. It's quick, quick, done. That's a big thing for me because administration is really hard and doing that for the first time was like, ‘wow! I can do that’.

I want to develop computer skills. I want to have administration skills. I want to take opportunities through the year. If I didn't get this Apprenticeship, I wouldn't have got any of this.

As part of it, I’m going to start running dance classes in Stratford, I can't wait! I've always wanted to start my own dance classes. And I've never done that before so it's so exciting to see how many young people are going to come. I can't wait to make some flyers for them and invite them. It's going to make my dream come true!

If you work hard, XLP help you to find your way and make your future happen. Thank you so much XLP for helping me achieve my dreams. If I didn't know XLP, I wouldn't be doing anything.