Jake Harding, 19, was born on the Isle of Wight in 1994, but by 1996 his parents had divorced and his dad had moved to Scotland. His mum struggled as a single parent but soon after re-married. Jake’s stepdad joined the RAF to give him and his mum a better life. Jake and his family moved around the mainland depending on where his stepdad was placed. At the age of eight he moved to Shetland which was the most remote place he had ever been, with only one small school and Jake the only boy in his whole year. There was a 2.5 hour journey including two boats to get to any shops, so it made it very hard as a child growing up.
When Jake left Shetland he moved to Hampshire and on a school trip had his first encounter with UKSA. He spent his 10th birthday at UKSA and the chefs made him a birthday cake to share with his class.
Jake moved back to the Island when he was 12 due to all his family being there and his mum deciding to return home. While at Medina High School, Jake had his second encounter with UKSA doing work experience in the kitchen area. After leaving school he went to college to study Performing Arts as he had loved drama throughout school and was awarded a Gifted and Talented certificate in acting. However the course did not live up to its promise, involving more dancing and singing than Jake expected, which resulted in him leaving the course before it finished.
After leaving school Jake got in with the wrong group of friends who caused trouble for them and him. All his friends were going out late at night at the age of 16 and Jake participated against his mum’s rules of being home by a certain time. Jake often didn’t go home, to save his mum shouting at him. After several occasions of Jake not listening to his mum and going against her wishes she had no choice but to kick him out. He moved into a youth hostel at the age of 17 where his bad behaviour spiralled as he got into even worse groups who had nothing better to do but cause trouble.
Jake knew he did not want this life and chose to try his best to apply for work. Having no work experience, Jake struggled for a very long time to secure employment. He chose to attend Insights at the Isle of Wight College as he had heard of a pre-apprentice scheme which can get your foot in the door with a lot of companies. Jake was undecided for a while in what he wished to follow as a career path, but chose to take up business admin at UKSA, as the training would be transferable for any job he might want to pursue in the future.
Jake joined UKSA in April 2013 as a pre-apprentice and since then his life has been on the up. He no longer associates with his old friend group, and things with his Mum and Dad are so much better now Jake has made a positive change to his life. IN October 2013 he started as a full apprentice and is now living independently in a flat in Newport. He does 33 hours a week at UKSA where his input is highly valued, and he spends one day a week at the IW College.
He wants to take the Watersports Instructor Training course and get into youth development. He has already clocked up a few qualifications, such as Short Range Radio, First Aid, Powerboat Level 2 and Safety Boat.
He said: “I’ve been there, done that, so now I want to help young people go through their own transitional stage. To UKSA I want to thank everyone for bearing with me, I truly think it’s a place for anyone and everyone, even if you don’t like the water.”