Woman who beat addiction in line for national award

Naomi Johnston. Picture: Contributed
Naomi Johnston. Picture: Contributed
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A FORMER homeless drug addict who has worked to turn her life around is in line for a royal award at a glittering

Naomi Johnston, from Leith, overcame substance abuse and homelessness to become a young ambassador for national charity the Prince’s Trust.

The 27-year-old is now one of only three people from across the UK to be chosen as a finalist for the Mappin & Webb Young Ambassador of the Year Award at the Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success awards.

She will represent the Capital at an Oscars-style ceremony hosted by TV stars Ant and Dec at the Leicester Square Odeon in London on March 23.

Among the celebrity guests will be Prince’s Trust ambassadors Mark Ronson and The Wire star Idris Elba, as well as trust patron Prince Charles.

After a difficult start because of family issues, Naomi turned to drugs and her erratic lifestyle led to homelessness.

Destitute and spiralling further into drug misuse, she suffered a series of serious injuries at the hands of a fellow boarder at one of the city’s homeless units.

In an effort to sort her life out, she approached Job Centre Plus in search of employment, eventually being persuaded to apply to the Prince’s Trust Team programme.

Her successful completion of the project resulted in her being appointed as an assistant team leader for the programme before landing her latest role as a young ambassador for the trust. Naomi said: “I use what has happened to me to inform other young people about making the right decisions and about going to seek help when they need it.

“I’m really proud of the changes I’ve made in my life and if I can share that and help even one other young person
to turn their life around, then I’ll be really pleased about that.”

Since becoming involved with the organisation, Naomi has played a key role in a
policy development group for the trust, which sees ambassadors take a role in letting young people’s voices be heard.

Naomi won the Scottish award for Young Ambassador of the Year at the Scotland Celebrate Success ceremony last November.

Justin Stead, chief executive of Mappin & Webb, said: “Not only did Naomi transform her own life, but she used her new-found confidence and motivation to reach out to others in the community. “We wish Naomi the very best of luck.”

The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. It supports 13-to-30-year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion. Three in four young people supported by the trust move into work, education or training.