The life-changing experience of attending a hostel after leaving home aged 14 inspired a single mum-of-two to attend university with the ambition of helping other young people to transform their futures.
Annmarie Duncan says the time and valuable life skills she picked up at Herst Newton Hostel, Bersham, inspired her to follow a career as a youth and community worker.
Now 24 and a student at Glyndŵr University Wrexham, Annmarie walked out of her family home on Caia Park as a teenager following an argument with her mum. But she was left homeless when, after going to live with her dad, he was evicted from his house.
Annmarie spent 14 months at the hostel, getting her life back on track before returning to college to study for more qualifications.
She is currently studying on a kick-start year, leading to progression on to Glyndŵr’s Youth and Community degree.
Annmarie said: “I’d just turned 16 when I went to live in the hostel and it changed my life. The staff who worked there were amazing and so supportive.
“I learnt everything from how to cook to pay bills, skills which I didn’t have before. They helped me to find somewhere to live and I continued to visit them even after I left.
“I managed to hold down a few jobs and started studying again but I fell pregnant with my daughter when I was 20 and then had a son a year later,” added Annmarie
“Now I want to be in a position where I can help others in the same way the hostel helped me.
Returning to study has been hard – I only attended school 50% of the time and left with very few qualifications – but I want to better my life and better the life of my kids.
“I want to show them by example that whatever they want to achieve in life they can do it through education.”
Kick-start years are offered by Glyndŵr University to students who may not have all the required grades/entry requirements for the ‘traditional’ degree course.
Annmarie part studied for an Access to Higher Education qualification and was accepted at Glyndŵr University on the strength of her life experience, passion and potential for a career in youth and community.
Jess Achilleos, lecturer in youth and community studies, said: “Glyndŵr University is passionate about providing everyone with the ability to achieve with the opportunity to achieve, whatever their background, and the first time we met Annmarie we thought she would become an outstanding youth worker.“
"She has an inspiring story to share and the drive and desire to help other young people transform their lives.”