Nhg Aylesbury Residents Story

29 Apr 2024

Navigating challenges and grasping opportunities – story from our Aylesbury resident

A significant part of the work we do on the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate in South London is working with the community. As part of our social and economic programme we provide support for residents towards employment opportunities, education and training.

Our social and economic investment programme manager, Chris Cotton, is a huge part of this and has done some amazing work with residents. One example can be seen through his work with Ayomide Medinat, who we asked to write about her experience of living on the Aylesbury.  The following story is completely in her own words and unedited:

Picture this: a 16-year-old me, full of hope and dreams, leaving Nigeria behind for the UK, all in pursuit of a better life. I didn't know much about the UK, but I believed in the promise of more opportunities. 

Things didn't start easy. I got rejected twice trying to enrol in a school, feeling lost and unsure about my future. But then, Ark Globe Academy gave me a shot, and that changed everything. 

Even though adjusting to the new school wasn't simple, the teachers and other students there were super supportive and helped me settle in pretty quickly. But it was during our work experience week in 2017 that things really shifted for me in a big way. One of the companies we visited was Notting Hill Genesis, and that's where I met Chris (Cotton, social and economic investment programme manager). He told us all about different career paths and opportunities at his company, and I felt really inspired and hungry for more. 

After that session, Chris was kind enough to give us his contact info and told us to reach out if we had any other questions. Even though I messed up and missed some appointments at first since I didn't know the area well yet, I was determined to meet with Chris again. Our next talk ended up being life-changing for me. With Chris's guidance, I landed my first ever volunteering experience with Notting Hill Genesis' summer programme for residents. 

That experience helped me build up skills and confidence that prepared me for the working world. Encouraged by Chris, I then applied for my first paid part time job as a retail assistant at a major Primark store in Oxford Street London. Thanks to his support and advice, I nailed the interview and worked there for an awesome five years. 

Balancing work and education wasn’t easy, but I kept pushing, having Chris there to endorse me as well as providing a supporting statement for my application played a huge role in me getting a scholarship that covered all my tuition costs. Even after graduating at the top of my class with a business and management degree, finding a job was still tough. Feeling really discouraged, I turned to Chris yet again for help and mentorship. 

We updated my CV to industry standard, did practice interviews and he just generally never stopped supporting me as I determinedly hunted for jobs. All that hard work paid off when I finally landed a role as a people administrator at Lindt and Sprüngli UK Limited. It was proof that sticking with it and having a mentor in your corner can make all the difference. 

Looking back now on my journey from Nigeria to the UK, I'm so grateful for all the opportunities that came my way, even when things seemed impossible at times. Every setback just made me more determined, and I overcame every obstacle through sheer resilience and hard work. With Chris's constant guidance and mentorship, I'm still striving for greatness in my career and life in general. My story shows that no dream is too big, and no hurdle is truly impossible, as long as you've got persistence and the right person there to support and guide you along the way. 

Chris Cotton says: “It’s been a real privilege to see Ayo’s journey through the years and to be a part of it. She has always been so determined and focused - this is a very modest account of her achievements to be honest and I know she will continue to go on to do great things.”