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Josh Wolfe overcomes the odds to scoop top internship

An entrepreneurial learner who has battled homelessness is on the road to fulfilling his dream of becoming a fashion designer after scooping a top internship.

Josh Wolfe, known to his friends as Wolf, was awarded the Grimsby Telegraph’s Against All Odds Golden Apple award, after experiencing a tough start to life.

The Level 3 Enterprise and Entrepreneurship learner, who dreams of having his own clothing line, was first made homeless at the age of 15 following a fallout with his mother.

But thanks to support from YMCA Humber, who offered Josh a room in their Foyer housing, as well as Institute Programme Leader Reece Leggett, he is now hoping his story can act as inspiration to others.

“My mum was never really a supportive person,” he explained. “I ran away for two months when I was 15 and when I moved back she decided to kick me out for good. That was me on the road of being alone and then I went downhill. I made some bad choices and did some bad things, things I regret, but they made me who I am.

“I got in contact with my real dad but that went really badly as well. Then I was fostered, and they saved my life really.”

After suffering mental health issues, Josh moved back in with his mother, but their relationship soon deteriorated. After eight months of “doing everything I could” to make it work, he found himself homeless once again.

“They found me a room in the Foyer and on the train there I just got a fire in my belly, to not get to that level of my parents. I just thought I’m going to go for it now.”

Josh signed up to the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship course on the “spur of the moment” last September, and has now gained two days’ work experience with a top luxury fashion brand in London.

“I moved back and didn’t know what I was doing with my life so came in and just ended up applying. It’s been really good so far and I hope to carry on with the second year.

“I need to understand the business side of the clothing line. There’s no point going into one of the hardest industries without knowing what I’m doing. I can have the skills to design and make stuff, but if I don’t understand the actual concept then there’s no point in running it.”

The Institute has also supported Josh with start-up materials including sewing machine, laptop and fabric, led by Reece and Principal Debra Gray.

“It was the first time meeting the Principal and she was asking me about my designs and what I like to do,” he said. “She said they had some mannequins in the back room if I wanted to see them so I said yes, and all of a sudden all this stuff was just laid out.

“I didn’t know what to do, I just cried. I don’t cry over stuff like that either, it was just the fact that all these people believed in me.

“When people say you’re never going to amount to something, you’ll never do anything with your life, then all of a sudden there’s a group of people in this room that believe in me as much as I believe in myself. It was just mad.”

Describing Josh as “inspirational”, Principal Debra said: “For us, it is about getting Josh on his first and second step. If we can give him the tools he needs to do the job he wants to do, then it’s our job to do so.”

Reece, Programme Leader for Business, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, added: ”Josh has made an amazing start to his college life, he’s broken down every barrier he has faced and continues to make huge strides in both his personal and professional life.

“We started our Enterprise and Entrepreneurship course in September specially to help students like Josh who want to start their own business. We are all very proud of him and the journey he has been on so far and look forward to continue to support him into the future.”

YMCA Humber Chief Executive Debbie Cook also commented: “Everyone at the YMCA is very proud of Josh and what he’s achieved. He’s a great example of what young people can achieve with the support they need.

“This is a great example of two organisations working together to help a young man achieve his goals.”

Thanking those who helped him rebuild his life, Josh finished: “The YMCA let me know it’s not bad to be human. When I first came I didn’t want to open up to anyone or show emotion but they’ve shown me it’s nothing bad.

“Thanks also to the college, especially Reece, for helping me and believing in me. I just hope my story can inspire others in similar situations to now do the same.”