Annabelle Clarke, City Year London, 2012-13

“Before I joined City Year London I was studying Philosophy at Leeds University. I knew that I wanted to work with children and in the charity sector, and also wanted to make a change. I knew that City Year would allow me to change the lives of a number of children as well as help me decide my future career path.

“I spent a lot of time working with an autistic boy in my class, who was in the special needs unit. Working closely with his learning support assistant, we encouraged this child to come out of his shell. By the end of the year he was fully integrated in mainstream at the school and beginning to express himself and make friends. I am still in touch with him and his mum and I often take him on a day out.

“The year taught me how to work with a range of different people, all from different backgrounds and with different working styles. I learnt when to take the lead, and when to sit back and let someone else lead. It also taught me how to approach more senior people to implement change in an organised and effective way.  It opened my eyes to how difficult life can be for some people, even in the UK, and really changed my perspective on life.

“It also helped me work out what I wanted to do in the future and after City Year I trained as a primary school teacher in the ARK network. I have now moved to India and am running a primary school in Dharavi – the second largest slum in Asia – and am responsible for ensuring that the children receive the best education possible.”