We spoke to Josh, 22, about his experiences with the Jon Egging Trust, one of our charity partners:
I was chosen to join the JET Programme when I was 13 because I was a very shy, quiet person and kept to myself. I have a communication disorder, so I had trouble speaking with people and I didn't really interact with much of my classmates or teachers despite, you know, liking school I still struggled quite a bit.
My day-to-day was to walk straight home from school and play video games by myself. I'm still a massive advocate of video games, they are not the problem. It was just that I was doing nothing else. But JET took me out of that.
I was not quite sure what I was going to be doing at first. They were taking me out of class to a place that I didn’t know, to interact with people that I had no relationship with. Being the shy little kid I was, I was absolutely terrified. But I was so glad after the first day because it just opened my eyes.
The first year at JET is teamwork. They took us to local RAF bases and on activities like viewing the Lancaster bomber, doing high ropes, activities with the local fire station or even seeing the Red Arrows up close and meeting the pilots. It was physical but there were mental tasks as well. Year two is leadership. So now you've worked in a team, now's your chance to lead that team and improve your skills. Level three was work experience and I did a two-week placement at RAF Scampton.
What I loved the most about JET was getting to talk to all these different people, it could have been volunteers, RAF pilots, just lovely people to talk to who shared their experiences. Making me interact with other people was a very key part of JET for me. Not just classmates that I might not have interacted with before, but people that I never even knew existed.
JET was the spark that changed everything. After my first year of the blue skies programme, my mum saw a massive change in me. I would not stop talking!
I went on to do A levels in business, IT, product design and maths, all stem focused. I then went on to do product design at university and I haven’t looked back. I’m now a product designer, I’ve just finished my master’s degree at Lincoln University, and I’ve got my own products going to market.
One of the products I’m working on is an early indicator test for diabetes to help prevent people from getting it. The test is designed to be as cheap as possible so that developing countries with limited health services can benefit.
I hope to carry on what I'm doing, fingers crossed that in the next four to five years my diabetes test it will be on the market or if not, that I learn valuable skills from it. I’ve always been open to new opportunities, going into different places, working in different countries. I like to try and figure out how to solve problems, make people happy.
The Jon Egging Trust (JET) supports young people who are facing adversity and come from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop social and emotional skills, re-engage with learning, improve their grades and in turn maximise their potential.
Their experiential learning programmes provide long-term support and access to extraordinary workplaces and STEM environments and the inspirational role models within them.