Alan Smart, 22-year-old from Sunderland, found himself homeless during the coronavirus crisis but didn’t let the this stop him from pursuing his passion for producing music.
Now living in an apartment in London, Alan is a young ambassador for The Prince’s Trust and wants to reassure other young people to believe in themselves. He has just released his album, titled Alan Smart, on Spotify and Apple Music.
I used to be a carer in Sunderland. I was working with adults with learning difficulties and did this for three years – I even won apprentice of the year.
After this, I became homeless for some time and my father was sentenced to life in prison but then thought ‘if I am going to be homeless in this city, I might as well take my chances in London’. I packed my suitcase with my clothes and CD’s and boarded a train to London. I knew I wanted to achieve big things in my life and didn’t want to have to sleep in night shelters where I was sharing a room with sixty people.
I was just turning 19 when I came to London. I arrived with an open mind and didn’t know where I was going to end up but knew I wanted a better life. To start off with I slept rough and then was approached by New Horizons Youth Centre who helped me to get accommodation. But I noticed that there was something missing in my life.
I ended up homeless again and couldn’t find a way back down to my new life in London.
In 2018 The Prince’s Trust helped kickstart my music career through a programme called “Get Started with Music.” I love music and my passion is Hip-Hop. I used to listen to Lauryn Hill and Lil’ Kim when I was homeless. I met so many people from different backgrounds and it became clear that we all felt accepted and were given a chance to show our talent. I loved the programme but still didn’t have a job and wanted to go further with my music.
Then I joined a programme by The Prince’s Trust which supported me in getting a job with Marks and Spencer. I worked there full-time for two years and it has helped pay for my time in recording studios.
However, when the Coronavirus crisis hit I was put on furlough and moved back to Sunderland for lockdown. I ended up homeless again and couldn’t find a way back down to my new life in London as public transport was so limited.
My routine was taken away and this had a massive effect on my mental health. I didn’t think I was ever going to get back to my life in London. Writing music got me through this time and my managers at Marks and Spencer kept in touch with me.
Luckily a stranger took me in and cared for me – she is now like an Auntie to me. I put all of my emotions into my lyrics and used this time off to put everything into my creativity. I wrote an album and distributed it myself.
Your dreams are there waiting for you.
As soon as I could, I bought a train ticket, moved back into my apartment in London and although I’m still on furlough, things are better and I now have a good relationship with my family. I’ve just released my self-titled album, Alan Smart, on Apple Music and Spotify. We produced the album while practicing social distancing and I am even filming a music video.
This time has been a challenge, but I have grown mentally from this experience. Strangers, colleagues and staff at the Prince’s Trust have helped me to get back to myself. I think that life is easier if we help each other and feel fulfilled from giving back to others whilst having a purpose in the world.
If there are other people out there who are struggling right now, they should know that there will be hard days, but keep believing in yourself and never give up. Your dreams are there waiting for you.