A homeless teen feared her life would end before adulthood.
Alicia Shah moved into a hostel when she was just 17 and also battled with her mental health.
She had to shoulder a lot of responsibility after her parents divorced – caring for both her single mum and disabled brother.
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But after finding some comfort through art therapy, she turned her life around.
The 30-year-old, from Richmond in London, is now a pageant star who's in the running for Miss Great Britain.
She hopes to use her platform for good – by setting up her own art therapy workshops.
Alicia told MyLondon: “At 17, I wasn’t coping with the responsibility of having a single mum and having two other siblings who I had to help raise.
"I craved independence but I came from a complicated background. I didn’t have a safety net.”
When Alicia moved into a homeless shelter for teenagers, she showed determination to change her circumstances.
She said: “I felt bad and let it spiral but I realised nobody is going to come and rescue me but myself; nobody is going to take me out of this.
"I’m not a victim, I found healing in painting and art therapy.”
Alicia later got into pageants, which she believes can help to raise awareness for causes close to her heart.
She said: “I thought, here is a platform, and here I can make my voice heard and help others find their voices.
“I thought it was the end at 17. Pageantry has been a way for me to tell people they are not alone."
The pageant competitor, who is the current Miss Hertfordshire, has now been running art therapy workshops for a decade.
She's pleased her classes help others to articulate themselves during their struggles.
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