AS A young single mum, teenager Joelene Brazier knows how tough it can be to bring up a child.
So the 18-year-old decided to share her story with other young people to tell them the truth about teenage pregnancy.
Devoted mum-of-one Joelene volunteers on a Portsmouth City Council programme that sends young mums out to secondary schools to talk to pupils about the reality of being a teenage parent.
Now she has been recognised as runner-up for the title of JLS Young Person of the Year, backed by the chart-topping band, for her work.
Joelene, from Buckland, Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s amazing. I was shocked to be nominated. I thought if I could help stop any other young person from getting in the position I was in or even just let them know 100 per cent the facts before they got in that position it was worth it. I love doing it.’
Joelene has worked on the council programme for almost two years.
She is one of 10 young mums who volunteer to spread the word to young people about waiting until they are older before having sex, using contraception and not getting pregnant until they are ready.
Joelene tells young people she loves her four-year-old son Bobby, but found it tough bringing him up in her mid-teens.
‘I thought it would be nice to give something back,’ she said.
‘I tell them about my journey. It covers everything from me falling pregnant to having to tell my family and the judgment – my dad didn’t speak to me from when I was eight weeks pregnant. It’s been about four-and-a-half years.
‘They don’t realise that it can rip families to shreds.
‘It’s also about losing friends from school and my relationship with my mum breaking down at one point.
‘You don’t just get free money and a free house.’
Kelly Huggett, a sexual health development officer at the council, said: ‘We nominated Joelene because she’s been an inspiration to both young people and professionals who have listened to her journey as a teenage parent.
‘She manages to engage with her audience in a sincere, realistic way which enables them to pick up clear messages without losing sight of her personal story.
‘She’s dedicated, committed and enthusiastic and she always manages to get the sexual health message across at an appropriate level for the young people to understand.’
The awards were announced at a ceremony held by sexual health charities Brook and FPA in London.