Rachel Edwards

Sociology - BA (Hons)

Escaping an abusive relationship at a young age has fuelled Rachel’s ambitions to help others. Her determination and self-belief has led her to a senior role at The Prince’s Trust and even bagging an invite to HRH The Prince of Wales' birthday party!

“I was in a long-term, abusive relationship with a gambling addict whilst I was doing my A-Level exams. It knocked my confidence massively and I wasn't sure I would get the grades I needed to go to university.

Despite it being a difficult relationship, it helped me to realise that I wanted to help people as a career, and I truly believe the hardest times in our life shape who we are and what we want from life. I wasn't sure what I wanted to study at A-Level but started sociology and fell in love with it immediately.

I knew I wanted to continue my studies and go to university, however coming from a working class background, I knew this would be tough financially. Thankfully I followed my love of sociology to university in September 1999, back when BCU was known as UCE.

When I got to university, I continued to deal with the long-term impacts of the abusive relationship on my mental health. I even thought about quitting, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. Since completing my university studies I am proud that I have pursued a career I love and enjoy and the impact I have had on young people's lives.

All I ever wanted to do was work with and support young people. Throughout my career I have worked in various roles helping and supporting a wide range of people in care and leaving care and have even taught English to children in Thailand during my travels.

Upon returning from my travels in 2012, I joined The Prince's Trust, where I am currently Head of Service Delivery for Central West. I have been at the Trust for ten years, in a senior leadership role since 2018, and in my current role since September 2021.

In this role, no day is the same, and I lead a team of over 40 people. Where possible, I also spend time visiting groups of young people, getting to understand their needs and experiences, to inform the decisions I make.

Through my current role I was nominated to attend HRH Prince Charles’ 70th birthday celebrations, which made me feel so proud of everything I have achieved.

Studying sociology enabled me to follow my passions and move into a career helping and supporting young people. Without choosing sociology I'm not sure I'd be in this career and I'm not really sure what I'd be doing. I want to continue to make a difference in my career to continue to help others develop and grow.

My biggest challenge has been me! Believing in myself and what I am capable of has been hard at times, and I sometimes have to remind myself of my progression and how proud and privileged I am to get up every day to do a job I love!

I now know that when things don’t go right, it often makes us stronger. I definitely think my experiences have made me believe in myself more.

I thought I needed all the answers, and that ‘Plan A’ was the only route, but Plan B, C and D have been just as exciting, if not more so! I’ve learnt that life is far more exciting if you have an open mind and are willing to explore your options.

BCU not only helped me through my journey from studying to career, but also made me believe in and stay true to myself.”

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