Lexie's story

2 March 2023

I dread to think what life would be like without UpRising, because they’ve taught me so many skills that allowed me to grow as a person… it’s hard to imagine life before it.

Lexie recalls her childhood being a challenging one. She grew up in a household that struggled financially and remembers her upbringing being “very unstable” with on-off involvement from social services. Despite these challenges, Lexie remembers feeling driven as teenager: “I tried really hard; I tried to really develop from my childhood and sort of – as a grown-up and as a teenager – make conscious efforts to not want to be like that, and to be in that situations again, and so I worked really hard”. 

When she was 12, Lexie went to live with her grandparents and explains this was a big improvement for her, with things going “up and up after that”. She remembers going on trips to London with her grandparents and also channeling her energy by participating in weightlifting competitions - an activity she got involved in after somebody at her local community centre suggested as something for her to do after school.

Lexie explains her childhood gave her a strong desire to work and make a life for herself: “I’ve had a job since the day I was 16. I got out, I got a job. I was like, I have to work; I have to make my own way in this world, and … I think that … that’s something very positive to come out of, I think, my childhood”.

I’m really open about coming from a difficult childhood, because I know a lot of people come from difficult childhoods, and I don’t want anyone to think that that has to stop them or that has to limit them in any way.

In 2021, Lexie enrolled onto UpRising’s Bedford Leadership Programme. She was in her final year of studying psychology at Bedford University at the time, her studies having been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. “I was in third year, so I was doing my dissertation. And we’d been in lockdown for like a year already, so I was becoming very reserved, and I’d moved to a new place, away from all of my friends.”

I was very reserved, I was very anxious, I was sort of getting in my head a lot about … how to function in society when things went back to normal.

Lexie explains how the online delivery of the programme was a significant factor in making the programme accessible and welcoming for her: “I got an e-mail for the UpRising [programme] through uni, and I applied, and I was like, oh, I don’t know, I don’t know. But then, when it was online, that really helped me, and it really was like, oh, it’s OK; it’s online. You don’t actually have to see people.”

For Lexie, UpRising was able to bring some structure, confidence and motivation to her lockdown life: “I’m a very confident and talkative person, and lockdown ruined that, and then coming to UpRising gave me normality again, and it gave me hope for the future, and that showed me that other people cared about what I cared about and wanted – are interested in what I’m interested in. And without that, like I said, I don’t know where I’d be”. 

Whilst on the programme, Lexie was supported to develop her own Social Action Campaign along with a group of peers, called Teaching Between Classes: “we teach young people, sort of in high-school age, things that they don’t necessarily get taught in school. You know, the sort of the nitty-gritty bits of life that you wish you knew at an early age, but you had to find out the hard way”. 

Lexie explains how the programme had an impact on not only her confidence and attitude, but also on her behaviour: “I litter-picked for the entire summer after I did my UpRising programme”. She feels her experience of UpRising supported her to feel like it was OK to ask questions and OK to speak up and share her thoughts and opinions - she explains it supported her to feel like her opinions mattered.

Every time I would have a session or a meeting, I would feel 10 out of 10. I’d feel on top of the world; I’d feel like I could conquer anything. And I think that was really important and really prepared me for life again.

After finishing the UpRising programme, Lexie went to work for a domestic abuse refuge as a family support worker. She explains how the skills and confidence she had developed at UpRising were able to support her in her role, and in turn support many of the women she worked with. “My proudest moment of leadership is just working in the refuge… I’d never worked in a job like this, and it was really overwhelming… I think my entire time up there was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… [I felt that] if I don’t do it, nobody’s going to do it, and then, these women are going to suffer. And I care about these women, and I care about these children. So I am going to push through.”

[UpRising] taught me that no matter how small you are, how small you think you are, every small change that you can do or you can help or support is really impactful, and overall, it’s really important.

Following her time as a participant on the programme, Lexie wanted to continue engaging with UpRising in some way and applied to be an UpRising Brand Ambassador - a short programme that trained Lexie in a range of different digital communications skills. Currently working and enjoying her job in marketing, Lexie explains that the skills and experience she was able to gain through being a Brand Ambassador prepared her for the role: “I literally wouldn’t have the job I have today without it, and I wouldn’t have the strength and the courage that I have today about standing out”. 

Two years on from taking part in the Leadership Programme, Lexie’s campaign is still active and supporting other young people: “The programme is the reason why my social action campaign started and why it’s still going, it’s because the motivation and skills that they taught us in the programme is like – it’s pulling through. We’re still using it every day that the campaign is still going, going strong.”