A YOUNG London woman has won a national award after going from being suicidal while living in a Stockwell hostel to feeling like she has the world at her feet.
Steph Rawlings felt like she had nothing to live for after dropping out of sixth form and living away from her family at the YMCA in Stockwell.
But then she started to attend Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme, which was being run by Harlequins.
Steph has since gone on to get a full-time job at a pub in Wandsworth, is dreaming of a career in hospitality and is living in her own home.
On Thursday night she was named Young Ambassador of the Year at the HITZ Awards at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf by Rugby World Cup winner Lewis Moody.
“Before HITZ I was pretty much trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Steph said.
“I was at a point where I was becoming suicidal, and my frustration and despair was all I was talking about – which is how I found HITZ.
“They said that I could do anything that I needed, so I thought I literally had nothing to lose. They really helped me a lot and I feel like I’ve come so far from where I was.
“I feel like there’s a brighter future for me and there are so many things that I want to do and I’m so excited to do them.
“Rather than laying at home and feeling like ‘why am I here’? I feel like I’m wanted and needed and I’ve moved out of the hostel I was living at.”
See Steph’s story here:
Premiership Rugby's multi award-winning HITZ programme utilises rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence and has been providing them with the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment since 2009.
Harlequins and the other Aviva Premiership Rugby clubs support the development of 3,000 targeted young people every year and an incredible 90 per cent complete the course, of which three quarters will go on to achieve a positive progression into further education training and employment.
Thursday night’s awards were a celebration of the programme’s standout performers and World Cup winners Moody, Rachael Burford, Danielle Waterman, and London Irish prop Halani Aulika, were among those presenting awards.
Moody said: “The people on the HITZ programmes are always inspiring and so are the stories that come through it – and Steph is certainly one of those.
“To hear the stories is always incredibly inspirational. To see all these young people like Steph who have gone through adversity and seen how they have overcome it and actually taking responsibility themselves to better themselves is something I love to see.
“Whether it’s people who have been in gangs, or had problems with drugs or crime; their lives have been changed by coming onto the HITZ programme.
“There’s also a massive focus on making sure it’s not just this short integration, and when they get home from the programme it finishes, it still continues; there is work and life beyond this.”
The annual HITZ Awards recognise some of the most inspiring young people in England. The HITZ programme delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. See hitzrugby.com