From homeless to successful entrepreneur

Elliot Locke
Elliot Locke

An entrepreneur has spoken on how he has turned his life around from being homeless to running a successful business.

Elliot Locke, 32, did not have an easy start to life. He experienced mental health issues, moved from school to school and found himself living on the streets at 15.

Since I started on The Prince’s Trust course, I have gone from being anxious and angry at the world to having high hopes for the future

Elliot Locke

But, now, with help from youth charity The Prince’s Trust, Elliot has managed to get his life back on track.

He said: “Despite being told I was a bright student, I didn’t get any GCSEs. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression from 17 and relied heavily on benefits. I was in and out of all kinds of jobs and could never seem to hold one down. I suffered badly with panic attacks. Eventually I hit the road, living out of a tent and went busking to pay for food. I lived this way for seven years. As soon as I settled anywhere, the anxiety and depression returned. I tried everything to ‘fix’ my situation, including cognitive behavioural therapy, but nothing made any difference. ”

Elliot, from Hastings, then came across the Enterprise programme being run by The Prince’s Trust, which supports unemployed young people interested in self-employment.

He said: “When I attended the first session my attitude reflected my situation of past let down and anxiety. However, after the first day of the course, I left with a sense of curiosity and vision. I decided to continue on the programme and see if I could work with The Prince’s Trust to build my business. This was the start of my journey and the point that I began to see my anxieties and depressions fade.”

As part of the Enterprise programme, each young person is assigned a volunteer business mentor. Elliot said: “This was someone who would encourage and keep me focused on what needed to be done. I think this was one of the biggest parts of helping me succeed. Having someone to speak with when anxiety began to creep back in, was a massive help. The overwhelming feeling of holding a business together and the paperwork that went with it was tough at times. But, my business mentor was one the most supportive people I’ve met and continues to encourage me. The Enterprise programme helped me to realise my full potential and kept me focused on priorities, so much so, that I have full confidence in my business abilities. Whenever I had any questions about setting up a business, I had someone available to talk through things with. The Prince’s Trust gave me a great insight into the world of running a business. I felt like I was important and it awakened my bright side from school and made me feel like I’m actually part of society and able to contribute to my community. I used to be very angry and disillusioned with the world, but the trust has changed me for the better and given me all the tools I needed to ground myself and build my business.”

Elliot has since launched his own business and also launched a new website, http://www.dreadsuk.com, selling hair care products for people with dreadlocks.

He said: “We have UK businesses coming to us as we are considered an authority in our industry and are also now part way through filming a documentary. This has been one of the most pivotal points in my life. Since I started on The Prince’s Trust course, I have gone from being anxious and angry at the world to having high hopes for the future.”