BY CALUM FRASER
A mother, who went from living on the streets to working for a property management company, has received an award from Prince William.
As a homeless and pregnant teenager, Claudette Shay’s situation looked bleak, but she found refuge at youth homeless charity Centrepoint.
After giving birth to her son in 2010 she started working part-time as an accounting assistant and library technician at the Bishopsgate law firm, and gained a degree from GSM London, formerly Greenwich School of Management.
Her journey was recognised by Prince William who presented her with a Centrepoint Award at Kensington Palace this month.
Ms Shay, 26, said: “I told Prince William that this award means so much more than just me and what I have accomplished.
“It represents the struggle single mothers go through on a daily basis and recognises how much harder they have to work to make a future, not only for themselves but their children also.
“While I chose to share my story, I am not the only one with one; we all share similar stories from where I’m from and I am proud to be able to be that person to say, it’s okay, I understand, you are not alone and you will be fine.
“Receiving this award makes me proud of where I came from to where I am today.”
Ms Shay was forced to drop out of college at 18, having left home two years earlier, and she was nervous about the prospect of returning to education.
She said: “I did not think I would qualify for the degree. I am someone who prefers to gain hands-on, practical work experience.
“But it was my sister, Valissa, who works at the college, a friend who had started there and a cousin that convinced me to apply.
“You have to have a good network of support. I know that I could not have done it on my own.
“I had my mum, sisters, friends and other support. I feel like it is not for everyone but if you go for it, give 110 per cent commitment.”
She has now been headhunted by a property management company and the new job offers a number of benefits including being closer to home.
She said: “I feel happier, now I have more of a routine and things are falling into place for a brighter future.”
Tawa Edwards , a senior lecturer and programme leader in HR and management at GSM London, said: “One word that comes to mind regarding Claudette is dedication; she was always present in all sessions, punctual and engaged.
“She took on leadership roles as well as provided support for her peers.
“I am very proud of her and what she has accomplished, she definitely did not let personal challenges stop or hinder her in any way.
“She was first in and always sat in the front row, taking notes, answering and asking questions.
“I definitely wish her all the best in her future; she will go a long way as she has the right attitude.”
The Centrepoint Awards, now in their third year, celebrate the achievements of young homeless people.
The charity provides homeless 16-25 year-olds with support to find work and tackle physical and mental health problems, in addition to a safe place to stay.
Prince William, a patron of the charity since 2005, was joined at the ceremony by Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes and Jonathan Ross.
The winners of the awards were chosen by a panel of Centrepoint’s staff members.