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University of East London student is determined to make the most of his opportunities

PUBLISHED: 15:27 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 13 March 2017

Dale Taylor-Gentles and Prince William

Dale Taylor-Gentles and Prince William

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University of East London student Dale Taylor-Gentles, is determined to make the most of his latest opportunity.

The 19-year-old has already had to endure being a child carer, living on sofas and being one of the youngest residents of a hostel for homeless people.

Dale, who lives in Lewisham, is now hoping to put his past behind him, get a good degree and fulfil his dream of working in counter-terrorism.

“The one thing I was looking forward to for a long time, even when times were hard, was university,” he explained.

“It was something to work towards that had nothing to do with my situation.

“Even when things were really bad, the thought of university kept me going.”

The youngster, who has campaigned about homelessness, met Prince William and corresponded with prime minister Theresa May.

He is loving studying sociology, as part of a criminology programme at the university.

“Now that I’m at UEL, things are much more stable,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying the course, which is a lot more than I expected it to be.”

Dale had a difficult relationship with his mum and ended up moving to Brixton to live with his grandmother at the age of 11.

A year later, she suffered a stroke that led to dementia and a steep decline in her health.

“I became her informal carer,” he said.

“For a number of years, no support was given to me - it was just me living with her.

“I had to do everything for her, I had to do the shopping, cooking, cleaning, even running a bath for her, I took on all the roles of an adult from the age of 12.”

After a few years he went back to living with his mum, but the same issues arose which left him sleeping at a variety of friends’ houses.

“I was sofa surfing. It was very difficult.

“I didn’t know what I was doing from one day to the next. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep the night.”

The situation got even worse, when he moved into a homeless hostel at the age of 16, but is pleased that is behind him and he still visits his grandmother at her care home.

“Now, when I go and see her at her care home, the talk is always about her wanting to see me graduate.”

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