5 November 2014

On the 5th of November, 24 year old Matthew Campbell will nervously await to hear if his name is called out from the stage at the regional celebration of the Prince’s Trust Ambassador of the Year. 

I was overwhelmed when I heard”, says Matthew. “I think the reason I was nominated was because as a Volunteer Ambassador for the Trust, I have been going to many corporate events to tell my story, and to talk about the Trust’s need for volunteers and funding. After one of these speeches, a company decided to donate a corporate sponsorship of £250,000. I think that’s what probably made it!” laughs Matthew.

Teachers who cared

The Prince’s Trust, and also YMCA St Paul’s Group have been invaluable to me. Without them, I wouldn’t have been where I am today”, he says.

Matthew struggled in school and got excluded from several before he was finally accepted at Southborough Boys School.

I felt that the teachers were more understanding at Southborough,” he says. “They saw me as I am. I felt that they understood what was going on with me, and cared about me. Because of this, I wanted to do good to prove to them that they were good teachers”.

However, when school ended I didn’t really know what to do. I kind of just drifted, and found myself without anywhere to go or anything to do. Becoming homeless was an eye opener, that’s when I realised I needed to get myself sorted out”.

Someone to talk to

As it happened, Matthew started the 12 week programme run by the Prince’s Trust on the same day he moved into the YMCA hostel in Surbiton three years ago.

Clare, my support worker at the YMCA, has helped me so much. She sat down with me the first week and we talked about everything. As with my teachers at Southborough, I wanted to show her that I could do well. It’s just so important to have someone who cares and shows some faith in you”.

With the help from YMCA, who gave him a roof over his head, regular meals, support workers to talk to and activities to get involved in, Matthew could focus his energy on the Prince’s Trust programme and turning his life around.

Supported Lodgings

Following eight months in the hostel, Matthew moved into one of YMCA LSW’s move-on houses, before in September 2013, he become a lodger with Izabel Grindal and her family, as part of the YMCA’s Young People’s Supported Lodging scheme.

The scheme young people aged 16 – 25 with families, couples or individuals who have a spare room to rent out, giving the young people a place to live whilst in education and while they save up for a deposit for their own place.

“Supported Lodgings has grounded me. Out of respect for my landlord Izabel and her two sons I have calmed down a bit. The best part of the arrangement is having someone to talk to, I really get along great with the family”, Matthew said.

A people’s person

Since he lives just up the road, Matthew still comes to the YMCA in Surbiton often. “It’s almost like I’ve never left”, he says. “If I need people to talk to, there’s always someone here, and I still come to have a chat with Clare every now and again”.

Matthew Campbell has just started his second year in University, where he is doing a degree in Youth Work. For the October half term camp he took eight young boys aged 14-18 who live in foster care on a Residential Camp, to teach them life skills. “My background from the YMCA is perfect for this kind of work”, he says.

“I have realised I’m a people’s person! I want to be out there helping young people grow and develop”.


This summer, Matthew worked at Lake Valley Camp in Wisconsin, USA. Read all about his summer at Camp in this story.