Meet Tom. He is 20 years old, lives in Kent, and is a former student of Trinity School & College in Rochester.
Prior to joining Trinity, Tom started to struggle with generalised anxiety linked to attending school. In order to avoid the trigger, he stopped attending and in total missed about two years of schooling. As well as losing his self-confidence during this time, Tom also lost contact with all his friends.
He says, "I'm not a great lover of school. The current education system is outdated for the modern world but my mum knew I had to get back into education and she fought to secure my place at Trinity".
Roll on two years and Tom found himself totally settled and relaxed in his place at Trinity. He credits the school's approach as key to ensuring he could thrive there. He says, "for a start, Trinity isn't based in some massive building, it's smaller and more personal. Year groups are small too and they're geared up to help the individual by putting emphasis on supporting an individual's own interests and what they're suited to."
In Tom's case this was identifying and building on his interest in photography, specifically photographing the emergency services and their vehicles. He says that the school's supportive acknowledgement of his specialist interest allowed him to feel comfortable and to forge his own path.
Tom completed his Trinity education, gaining qualifications in Maths, English and ICT, as well as developing his photography and creative areas. In addition, he praises Trinity's input around life skills and the emphasis they put on developing social skills and resilience. This resilience, he says, allows him 'to confront difficult and challenging situations head-on, to own them and cope with them in a way that no longer allows fear to own my life'.
After leaving Trinity, Tom secured his dream job with the London Ambulance Service. Working as part of the A&E Ops team, Tom is part of the crew conveying patients. He responds to 999 and 111 calls dealing with situations as varied as mental health care crisis, to end of life care.
He thrives on being able to help people and feels that his own experiences are hugely beneficial in him being able to do a good job. He says, "Because of my own journey, I have empathy for all sorts of situations. I understand that my patients feel at their most vulnerable, and having been there myself, I feel so privileged to be able to help in some small way".
Having worked on the front line throughout the pandemic, anyone would forgive Tom for wanting to relax a little in the coming months but no, he has his sights set on his longer term career with the Ambulance Service, gaining new qualifications, moving up through the ranks, learning new skills and, he hopes, securing the role of Assistant Ambulance Practitioner in time.
From being unable to attend school, to planning the next steps in his career in just a few short years, Tom is an inspiration. "People will try to hold you to your limitations, but allowing yourself to rise above this is so important. I like telling my story and if it can help or inspire just one other person, then I'd be very happy".
Tom continues to invest time in his photography interest and is proud to say that some of his pictures have been used by the Communications Team of the London Ambulance Service on their website, social channels and in their publications. Tom also runs his own YouTube channel where he broadcasts content linked to emergency service vehicles and response. He has over 26,000 subscribers and some of his videos have attracted over a million views.