A TEENAGER who spent years bouncing from one care placement to another has turned his life around and now helps others in the system.

Jack Segelov got taken into care when he was 12 but struggled to find a suitable new home. After going through more than 20 placements in one year, he spent time with a new Swindon youth services company who helped get him on the right track.

The 18-year-old now works full-time for Kingdom Youth Services by using his difficult experiences to help other young people who were in his shoes.

Despite going through some traumatic times, he’s determined to stay positive and has just moved into his own flat while studying maths and English and a Level 2 Diploma in health and social care.

He said: “I’ve been all over the place, away from my family, separated from my sisters, living out of my suitcase, I never settled down anywhere,

“I was treated like a number and just wanted to go back home, it was one of the worst times of my life.

“When you have lost a lot in the past and think of all the stuff you will never get back, you just start crying and you don’t want to be around the carers, so you hop on a train and galavant.

“But when I moved here last January, it opened my eyes to how amazing people can be I found it hard to open up but they actually listened and and were determined to get somewhere. Once I started to talk, things changed for the better.”

After this turning point, he decided to act as an inspirational example to vulnerable youngsters who are worrying about their own futures.

Jack added: “When I turned 18, I spoke to the company director because I wanted to help people who were in my situation, I know how they feel.

“My 12-year-old self would not believe where I am now, he’d have a big smile on his face and say ‘you got where you wanted to be’.

“I’ve got a good job, my own place, I’m back in education, I couldn’t ask for much more really. It would have been so easy for my life to go the other way, I feel lucky.”

Jack was one of Kingdom’s first clients - they currently support eight children - and he is now their first ‘expert by experience’, a role which they hope other companies will take on as well.

The company in Kembrey Park provides safe accommodation and helps their young clients become more independent.

Operations manager Amanda-Jane Carey added: “When I first met Jack, he always had his hood up and was effing and jeffing, but now he holds his head high, he’s smiling and chatty and gets things done.

“No-one chooses to go into the care system, it can feel scary and does destroy some people, but he has come out the other end, he’s turned it into a positive and is helping others to hopefully feel the same way.

“Jack changes his approach depending on what the person he’s speaking to is like, he’ll say to us ‘that’s not how you should to talk to them’, which is invaluable to us and what we do.

“He’s very compassionate. He gave an Afghan refugee his bedroom and TV and offered to bring him food and drinks. Even with a language barrier, they found a way to understand each other.”

Jack started fundraising for school equipment in Zambia as well as Christmas presents for the pupils, and plans to head over there at Easter.

Registered manager Rachel Smith said: “Even at 17, he was completely different to how he is now, he was always running away, sometimes changing placements after a week or even a day.

“The lived experience doesn’t match the person. He’s never miserable and always puts a positive spin on what he’s been through, it’s remarkable and it means a lot to us to have him here.

“He’s so lovely with the kids. One of them told us Jack is the first friend he’s ever had, everyone here loves him.”

Visit kingdomyouthservices.info or call 07340 119834.