JUST over a year ago, Sutton teenager Nancy Wilson was struggling to cope with homelessness and alcohol addiction.
Living in a hostel for homeless people, she also had a criminal record and had recently become pregnant.
But having a baby turned out to be the motivation Nancy needed to turn her life around and become a good role model, not just to her own son, but also to other young mums.
Now her work is being recognised and she is in line for a top award after being nominated for the first Nottinghamshire Outstanding Achievement 4Uth Award.
The awards, which are run by Nottinghamshire County Council, aim to highlight the achievements of young people.
Nancy said: “Working with the Youth Service has turned my life around and has helped to give me the confidence to make something of my life.
“I am the last person you would expect to be up for an award – I was the naughty one at school.
“I want to become a youth worker to help encourage and inspire other teenagers who may be in a similar position that I was in eighteen months ago.”
Nancy decided to put her first hand experience of being homeless to good use by joining the Nottinghamshire Homeless Young People Forum, which provides advice and support to teenagers who are or who may become homeless.
And as her confidence grew, she went on to become a leading member of the group and has never missed a meeting.
The 19-year-old, who is now a volunteer with Alcohol Concern, has delivered a training session to hostel managers to help improve the way local hostels work with young homeless people.
Working with a number of experts, she has also compiled a support and survival guide for young people who are at risk or are already homeless and to raise awareness of some of the issues facing teenagers.
Her latest project is helping to write a Lottery bid that could see the homeless forum carry out training with pupils who have been identified as being at risk of becoming homeless in secondary schools.
Nancy has also applied to go to college to complete her A-Levels.
Youth worker Zoe Stimpson, who has been working with Nancy for 18 months, said: “I met Nancy when she was living in a homeless hostel where she had developed an alcohol problem and gained a criminal record.
“At that point she had also found out she was pregnant.
“She’s a bright girl and left school with 11 A - C GCSEs and was attending college undertaking her A-levels when she became homeless.
“She has overcome so many barriers in her life and has been able to turn it around to become a good mother and an excellent role model to other young people who are either homeless or young mothers.”
To nominate a young person for the award visit www.nottszone.org.uk or contact Sue Andrew on 0115 97 74446. The deadline for entries is 1st June and the winner will be announced on 30th September.