Q&A with Ambassador Michael
02 June 2021
'Tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? What do you do for a living?'
My name is Michael, and I live with my girlfriend in Whitton and we have a German Shepherd puppy called ‘Buddy’, who is 5 months old at the moment. I am originally from Glasgow, I moved to London when I was a child.
I love pizza, working out, challenging myself and have a real passion for trying to make a difference in people's lives.
I work in mental health for a company called Kooth, which provides free online mental health and wellbeing support. Before this I was a key worker at a residential home for young adults with learning disabilities, autism and mental health issues.
My dream job is to work for a non-government organisation or to be a teacher. I also finished university with a degree in History and a Master’s in International Relations and Politics and I am a massive fan of TedTalks!
'What is your most poignant memory from childhood?'
My most poignant memory from childhood is spending time with my brother. He is a big influence in my life and has always been a best mate. When we were in France my brother and I got chased by a field full of bulls when we were fishing. It was scary, don't get me wrong, but we laughed so much afterwards because our shoes fell off and the cows ate them.
'What interested you in becoming an Ambassador for Start It Right?'
I have always wanted to be involved in helping people and making a difference. I feel Start It Right can do this for young people, as providing holiday activities is essential for young people growing up, to learn new skills, experiences and have a ton of fun whilst doing it. This really helps when young people are finding out about what they really want to do and can be a great starting point for creating that interest and excitement in young people's lives, which they can carry into adulthood and doing something they love.
'We heard you are quite a keen sportsman - what kind of things have you been involved in?'
Yes, I have been really keen on my fitness and sports. I find it to be a great outlet in my life and it has helped me to challenge myself and learn more about what I am capable of.
I have even competed internationally in boxing and athletics. When I went to compete for boxing in Miami, America, I represented England which was a real highlight for me as I won by knockout in the second round. Along with this, I also won the international tournament in Sweden called ‘King of the Ring’ and came away with a gold medal all by way of unanimous decisions.
Running the Bilbao Night Marathon for MIND, the mental health charity, was another great experience in my life as it was by far the toughest marathon I have run. It rained the entire night and there was not much support on the streets because of this, so it truly felt like I was running 26.3 miles on my own, which leaves a lot of time for you to wonder why you’re doing this!
'What do you think young people don’t get enough recognition for in today’s world?'
I think young people do not get anywhere near enough recognition for how much pressure is put on them today and how competitive of a world they live in. Whether it is social media, school, employment or the pressure of what to do with your life, it feels to me as if young people have way too much on their shoulders at the moment.
'How has volunteering made a difference in your life?'
Volunteering certainly has made a major difference in my life. It taught me the appreciation of giving back to the community and people who may be in need of support. After all, we’re all human and there will be times in our lives where we need someone to give us a little help, or come together to make a difference in people's lives. I think volunteering is such an important thing to do and we can all spare some time to make a difference.
'If you could give your 16 year old self one piece of advice what would it be?'
Take a breath, sit back, and enjoy each step of the way. To understand that life does not happen on your terms, there are going to be a lot of curve balls thrown at you. But what happens on your terms is how you enjoy it and face challenges when they come your way. Take time for the little things and definitely do not get too worried about the big things. It's all a learning curve and no one ever goes through life without making mistakes, and even if you do make a mistake or fail at something, this is still a good thing because you can learn from it.
'Finally, what are you looking forward to doing post Covid-19?'
Post Covid-19 I am simply looking forward to seeing people happy again and without the anxiety or worries of the global pandemic. It has hit everyone hard and I really cannot wait until we, as a society, have beat this pandemic so life for all of us can go back to normality.