Having grown up in a very toxic home life since I can remember, I took the decision to leave home at 14 and became one of London’s ‘elite’ homeless people. Living off begging and stealing, I even picked up convictions for theft (all of which were food) and knowing I was homeless the authorities decided I was of no fixed abode and a problem for the people of London.
This led to a period in Borstal as a 16 year old boy. I was scared witless. I hated it. I had managed to gain unnecessary attention, which left me fighting for my life.
THAT WAS IT!!! Something had to change, I had to change, I had to make a difference to myself and be the person I wanted to be.
I was lucky enough to have the backing of a seasoned homeless guy who really looked out for me and I managed to get enough money to leave the country and travel. It wasn’t all fancy hotels and sunbathing on the beaches – it was still hard. But the weather was great and I did all jobs available: bars, touting “ticket selling”, but saved every penny I could. I worked for a hotel gaining business for them – I got free accommodation and breakfast plus a small wage. I worked for a restaurant – I got free food and a small wage. And so on. This carried on for six years.
In this time I saved a lot of money and returned to Blighty with money, a knowledge of culture and language, and an ability to stand on my own two feet.
Then in 1994 I landed a job in health and social care. It was amazing – I was needed and I had plenty to give. I gained a passion for care and a passion for working empathically.
Twenty two years later I still work in care, but as a registered manager covering mental health, acquired brain injuries and learning disabilities. I am still as passionate, but with one advantage: I had knowledge and qualifications, and a reasonable amount of power to make a change.
I wanted to make bigger impacts, be a part of bigger changes that were necessary. I became involved with campaigning for change and support networks. A brief time with Amnesty International and other organisations made me feel that we are so far away from getting it right unless we educate more people. It’s 2016 and there is still so much pain and anxiety in our communities.
One of my interests is the development of young people and ensuring they have a voice: they are our future. I did work with the youth service and worked with many troubled children who were struggling with home life, and became involved with trying to support these young people and their families. This was never going to be easy – some of these families were 2nd or even 3rd generation unemployed. This was born from a long history of alcohol/drug misuse and physical and emotional abuse, plus some mental health issues thrown into the equation. All this has led the homes of these children to become toxic and never changing.
I saw an advert back in 2015 asking if I wanted to make a difference – yes I did. It was an advert for the 70/30 campaign. With a few phone calls and research I was accepted into the fold of this family and I became a 70/30 Ambassador; my role was to talk with MPs and tell them my story and stories of other people – and what we can do to make this right. My MP was brilliant. He listened and he was transfixed with how much pain one can carry – and how even after all that I still wanted to make a difference – and he tweeted me, he blogged me, I even got into the paper five times plus an online version! The word was getting out there, there is a new sheriff in town and he wants to get the word out.
It was a complete roller coaster of emotion and it’s getting better, that drip in the ocean is becoming a wave of change.
I look forward to starting my groups, then my group starting their group, and so on. Watch this space!
Thank you for your time.