There’s always another way. Even for me, not having the support around me all the time. My mum used to work 12-hour shifts and my dad wasn’t around, so it was just me. It’s about finding a way to help others and fulfil your potential. It’s okay not to fit in a crowd, you don’t need to have everything now, it can always come later. If you have a faith, you can turn to God. If you want to get into sport, you can get into sport to seek that support. There’s help everywhere.
I felt like, ‘with my record, will I get a job? Is there hope?’, but my case manager assured me that all volunteer work counts as work experience. It showed that I’ve turned my life around.
If you want a mentor, get a mentor. There’s people out there who really want to help you fulfil your potential, you just have to find them.
Our stories are powerful. Peer Power is a social justice charity that uses young people with lived experience to share their life stories. This empowers other young people to become leaders, and challenges employer attitudes.”
“I’m from Charlton, in South East London. When I was in secondary school, I got involved in robberies and knife crime, stuff like that… I got arrested [and] was given an Intensive Referral Order. I was planning to breach it, thinking, ‘This is long’, but a few months down the line, I realised that I didn’t want to go back to my old lifestyle, because you only end up in one place.
My case manager got me in to volunteering with a charity who work with vulnerable people. Once I did that, I started to learn what the effect of what I was doing had on people. My whole mindset started to change…I tried to give something back, so I did presentations on gang culture and gun crime to the North Kent Youth Offending Team. They were all pretty impressed! Once I did that, I started to build confidence in myself. I realised I can actually teach people to learn from my mistakes.
The head of youth justice in Kent decided to make an apprenticeship role for me because she saw all the things that I was doing. Now I’m helping people who are where I was, see where I am now.”