Stories

From Care to Career – it’s not always a straight line

“Young people who are in or about to leave local authority care are often vulnerable, isolated, more likely to suffer with mental health issues, and face bigger barriers when trying to find work. Helping a supporting a young man like Darnell who has had so many obstacles, and challenges in life and not always made the best decision for himself but is so positive, and determined to overcome them you just can’t help but admire and want help, and it has been a real privilege and pleasure. Young men like him are great examples to others, he has a great attitude and I hope the small opportunity we have given him will help him to go on a achieve his goals” Matthew Weatherby, Social Value Manger at Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd

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From Care to Career – the long way to sustainable employment

I am number 4 of 5 children my mother had with my father. My father had 13 children in total of which I was number 9. My mother made the decision for me to come and live with family friends in England as a bid to give me a ‘better life’ based on my family circumstances at the time. I came to England in 2002 and I lived in South London with this family for almost 8 years. The first 4 years of living with them, I was not allowed out of the house and was not allowed traditional education but was merely acting as the family’s live-in au-pair. I endured countless amounts of physical, emotional and mental abuse whilst living with the family.

I had no friends and no family to confide in. As I got older, I could not take it anymore which led to me running away and reporting my situation to the police. The police introduced me to Merton social services who supported me for most of my early adult years from 2010 until I finished university in 2019.

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The story so far – from care to career

I come from humble beginnings; being raised in Queens Crescent was an experience which has led me to become the man I am today. Where I grew up, a lot of crime and anti-social behaviour was the norm and I knew at heart I could be someone who doesn’t fit into the typical narrative of a young black Congolese male from Camden. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I experienced the harassment from police in the area; having to stay home after school as 200 police were raiding my neighbourhood; consistently being stopped and searched throughout my secondary school years (even being stopped and search on my 15th birthday!).

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Change happens – Life goes on

The pandemic has hit the young people we’re working with extremely hard. Many of them have lost their jobs right at the beginning of the crisis in February-March, especially the younger ones 19, 20 years old. A lot of our young people are given a council flat or studio at a young age, which means that they’ve a lot of financial responsibilities. Several of them have additional caring duties looking after young children, siblings or sick family members.

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Mentor of the Month: Lulu Burrough

Two years down the line, I have LOVED every minute. My Mentee is a remarkable individual and hugely talented; in the time we’ve been paired together he’s attended interviews, secured a permanent role, and delivered a number of successful projects. We have very similar interests and, when we haven’t needed to look at CVs or to practise interview techniques, we have widely varied what we do together.

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I’ve transformed my life through a job that I love

A year ago, I could not have imagined I’d be in a well-paid full-time job that I really enjoy. Back then it felt like I had no control over my life because I missed out on my education. I’m a Londoner, but for two years I ended up as a total stranger in Manchester at a school for people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The teachers thought I should be doing GCSEs but the school didn’t have anything on offer.

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