A SOUTHALL man saved from the brink of suicide by The Prince's Trust is one of just three people in the UK to be nominated for an award for inspiring disadvantaged young people.
Shikesh Sorathia, who won the London and South East Mappin & Webb Young Ambassador Award last year, will now go through to the national final, in a red carpet ceremony to be hosted by Ant and Dec at the London Palladium on Monday.
The nomination pays tribute to the 24-year-old's transformation from a child who had already suffered emotional and physical abuse by the age of 11, to a role model whose research formed the basis for a Victoria Climbié Foundation safeguarding workshop.
Mr Sorathia described his childhood and teenage years as 'like running from one nightmare to another’.
“I was always the silent kid,” he said. “I wouldn’t speak at all and the teachers wouldn’t even know if I was in that day or not.”
He developed an eating disorder and, in November 2011, made a first attempt on his life.
He said he was put on a waiting list to see a counsellor and told to go to his GP if he felt like that again.
“I knew they would put me on antidepressants and that wasn’t going to do much,” he said.
When he again had suicidal thoughts, it was by turning to the Prince’s Trust in 2014 that he said he found a way to turn his life around.
He engaged with a personal development programme for unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds, and during a session with his counsellor, realised he was not to blame for his difficulties.
The revelation meant that he has since lived by one phrase: “I am not a victim, I am a witness, so it is my duty to give a testimony in order to eventually heal lives and stop abuse.”
This selflessness led him to do a diploma in life coaching, which he hopes will help him launch his own life coaching business in September.
Mr Sotharia said: “Now it is like, you know what? It doesn’t even matter. I don’t feel no fear or harm.
“No matter what anyone puts you through emotionally, physically and no matter what they do to you, they can never break you because I am a living example.
“I am telling you that you are somebody.”
Elizabeth Galton, creative director at Mappin & Webb, said: “Shikesh’s journey demonstrates the impact of The [Prince’s] Trust in young people’s lives.
“He has not only turned his own life around, but is committed today to helping others.”
Image courtesy of The Prince's Trust, with thanks