After nine years without a job, with no purpose and no future, Clifford Harding was facing life as just another unemployment statistic. However, one moment changed his life, and put him on the path to helping other young people from deprived backgrounds.
He has gone on to become a role model for youngsters in his community and developed a truly innovative way of teaching children maths that saw him rapping in the House of Commons. Clifford, who lives in Birmingham, had always found school tough. Suffering from dyslexia, he struggled to keep up with his classmates and failed most of his exams.
He remembers: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I grew up in a very strict household, and when I left school with no qualifications or job prospects I rebelled. “I was a bit like a caged animal breaking free and didn’t care that I didn’t have a job.”
As he approached the end of his teens, Clifford’s grandparents and mother sadly died in quick succession. “That’s when things became really bad,” he says. “I wasn’t interested in bettering myself and remained out of work for nine years.”I was causing trouble, getting involved in petty crime, drinking, loitering and smoking.” However, one day his benefits failed to come through – and that is when his life changed forever. He says: “It really upset me. But then I thought, what am I doing waiting for this money when I could get a job instead?”
Clifford managed to secure a cleaning job, and inspired by the big offices he was working in, he started to think about his future. He heard about The Prince’s Trust and made the decision to approach the youth charity for help setting up his own business, which started out as a children’s party company.