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Project helps orphaned teen build new future

Friday 15 August 2014

A bereft teenager who lost both of his parents in less than 18 months has battled against his grief to secure a plumbing apprenticeship, with the help of West Midlands Police and the Prince’s Trust.
 
Shaun Abbott’s mum died from a heart attack in March last year. At the time, he was volunteering at Dudley-based charity City Can Cycle, which refurbishes old bikes and donates them to local good causes.
 
It devastated the 16-year-old, who was badly-affected by his loss and drew the concern of PCSO Omar Sharif, who knew him simply from his regular patrols in the area.
 
Recognising the impact of his mum’s death, PCSO Sharif suggested to Shaun that he could join a popular police-led scheme aimed at people his age, to give him something positive to focus on.
 
The highly-acclaimed and innovative Prince’s Trust Team programme is now in its seventh year and has already offered mentoring and guidance to more than 2,000 people aged between 16 and 25.
 
Team is a 12-week personal development course offering work experience, qualifications, practical skills, community projects and a residential week.
 
Inspired, Shaun applied and was recruited onto the scheme in December under the guidance of PCSO Hayley Giles, who wanted to help him develop his skills and strengthen his job prospects.
 
He got off to a great start and had an inspirational work-ethic which saw him achieve a near 100 per cent attendance record as well as the timely completion of all his coursework.
 
However, just as the teenager was coming to terms with the loss of his mum, life dealt him a second blow when, out of the blue, his dad become poorly and was later diagnosed with lung cancer.
 
But despite the news of another family illness, Shaun was committed to finishing the project and continued to attend the regular sessions, even completing a placement he’d secured with a local bathroom company.
 
It was only towards the end of the programme that his mentors learnt he’d spoken of his aspirations to become a plumber with his mum in the weeks and months before her death.
 
With the end in sight and having laid the foundations of a successful career, fate cruelly rocked Shaun’s world for a third time when, on the night of his presentation evening, his dad was rushed to hospital.
 
He sadly passed away on the last day of the programme.
 
But to the amazement of his mentors and colleagues, Shaun was back in the office the morning after his dad’s death to finish his work. It was a level of dedication which left PCSO Giles in awe.
 
She said: “Despite everything he went through, Shaun wanted to do everything that was asked of him and nothing seemed to faze him. He kept his spirit going and was just so committed."
 
At the end of the course bosses at Wall Heath Bathrooms, who’d been delighted by his performance during his work experience and moved by his story, offered Shaun a permanent plumbing apprenticeship.
 
“He told his mum it was his dream to become a plumber and he did her proud by going out and making his dream come true − he’s an inspiration," said PCSO Giles. 
 
“I can’t even begin to think what Shaun’s been through but in the face of real adversity he’s worked so hard to build a better future for himself. He truly deserves every success."
 
The youngster has now started his full-time apprenticeship. 
 
For more information about the Prince’s Trust Team Programme in Dudley, contact PCSO Hayley Giles by calling 101 ext 851 6401 or visit @sedgleyptrust on Twitter. 
 
Photo caption:
 
Foreground: L/R Shaun Abbott and PCSO Hayley Giles.
Background: L/R PCSO Omar Sharif, PCSO Faye Cartwright, Frank Price (City Can Cycle), Tom Taylor (City of Wolverhampton College, Assistant Team Leader), Stephen Taylor (Owner of Wall Heath Bathroom Centre).