Kai, aged 30. Luton resident. His story in his words.
“You’ve got to turn this around. Now is the time and you can totally do it… You got this.”
This is what my YOT worker told me in the kitchen of the hostel I was staying at. I was 17 and had just been discharged from the L & D hospital after being stabbed.
If I’m honest, I’d be running round mad since I was about 12 or 13. Usual kind of stuff, not going to school, smoking. Typical road life.
Jamal, one of the elders from my ends, took me under his wing. Showed me how to make quick money.
Looking back now, why would a 20 year old man want to chill with me, at like 14? Drive me around and get me trainers and that?!
I was dealing and carrying all sorts, all over town, every day. I soon got a criminal record and it was hard to see who and what my identity was.
I had some good workers around me, education and health worker, YOT, social worker, hostel staff. I’m not gonna lie,
I didn’t really trust anyone but this was a wake up call – man didn’t want to die. I knew something had to change. I didn’t want to reach out, ask for help; but I did, it was worth it. Some of my workers were so supportive and helped me make a plan and listened to my view.
A few weeks went by. I was trying to distance from my old lifestyle, but some times were hard and I was proper tempted to go back to what I knew.
I thought about my skills and what I was good at. Sales, negotiation, communication.
I’d done a few courses and was keeping out of trouble.
When I was 18, one my key workers helped me apply for a job. This was in a local estate agents.
I wore my ‘court suit’ to the interview. I was so gassed when they called me and said ‘you’ve got the job’
That was over 10 years ago. I get paid a good wage every month and it’s legit money. I have holidays, decent clothes and a nice car, all without worrying the police are going to raid my yard at 6 am.
I’ve started doing outreach work to encourage the young people of Luton to believe in the skills they have.
The abilities some of these young people have are crazy, they need support and belief to see their potential.
I’m not here to preach my story but I want you to see there are people out there who will exploit you, it’s as simple as that.
But please think on this, there is help around you and people who want the best for you and your future.