Second chance with the Kids Company
Now at the age of 23, and thanks to the support of the Kids Company charity, Jessica is studying for a degree in youth and community studies at the George Williams college in east London.
The Kids Company takes around 500 teenagers a year, offering them tuition, food, and a place to hang around in the evening with qualified counsellors and therapists on hand. "They were interested in your home situation, even though they never pried into it. At Kids Co they're open to everything.
"I couldn't focus on school. I couldn't give it my all. If I didn't understand something, I didn't go to class. A lot of us ended up not going to school. Too many to mention. I have always been different. Maybe I hung around with the wrong sort of people. But in academic stuff I tried hard. I enjoyed things like the performing arts and I got bullied because of that.
"At home there was a breakdown in communication. My mum was also studying.
We were living a bit cooped up in a small flat. It's hard if everyone's living under everyone's feet. I ended up in foster care. I referred myself.
I went back home for a year in 1997, then got kicked out."