New poster girl unveiled in Stevenage for youth charity

A TEENAGER who struggled to overcome long-term unemployment and homelessness has become the face of one of The Comet’s charities of the year, after she was chosen to be featured on the biggest billboard in Stevenage.

Baldock-born Zoe Cree is the new poster girl for The Prince’s Trust after a billboard at the junction of Fairlands Way and Lytton Way roundabout was unveiled on Friday.

The advertising space is worth half a million pounds and has been donated to the youth charity by DTZ.

Zoe had struggled at school before being expelled at the age of 15. She ended up unemployed with few qualifications and little experience.

The 19-year-old said: “I was quite naughty at school. I didn’t really go very much. Outside of school I just hung round the streets. And then I got kicked out of my mum’s house when I was 17. We just argued all the time.”

Zoe then took part in The Prince’s Trust Get into Hospital Services course, which gave her the skills, confidence and motivation to find a job.

The former Knights Templar School pupil, who now works as a clinical support worker at Welwyn Garden City’s QEII Hospital, added: “The people at the Trust made me think I could have a good job and do something with my life. They helped my self esteem; made me feel good about myself.”

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At the unveiling, Graham Ball, East of England regional director for the Trust, said: “I think it’s quite appropriate that we have got a sign on a crossroads because many young people reach a crossroads in their lives and those that have got support carry on straight but many young people who don’t have that support can go right or left.

“They can get into a life of crime or drugs but we’ve tried to help these young people and make a difference to their lives.

“We’ve helped over 70 young people in Stevenage in the last 12 months and 80 per cent are in education, training or employment. We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to raise awareness of our work with vulnerable young people.”

Mr Ball also thanked The Comet for their involvement with the Trust, Stevenage-based Character Signs for producing the billboard and Shadow Entertainment for providing the PA system on the day.

Cllr Michael Downing, mayor for Stevenage, added: “Zoe’s determination not only to turn her life around – but to help other young people – is incredible. Her story will undoubtedly inspire thousands of other young people to do something positive in their lives.”

The Prince’s Trust aims to support more than 3,500 disadvantaged young people in the East of England this year, giving them the confidence, motivation and skills to find a job. More than three in four young people on Prince’s Trust courses go onto work, education or training.