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

Dwayne signed up with Drive Forward in September of last year. When he first met with Justin, he was initially reserved but Justin soon broke the ice with his natural good humour! From the start, it was clear that Dwayne was ambitious and eager to work hard. He had aspirations to work in construction having studied construction whilst at college and recently secured a CSCS card during a period in prison.

Dwayne had been placed into Local Authority care – and into the care of his Nan – a few months after being born. He was very close with his Nan but at the age of 14 had to move due to struggling family relations. The continuous disruption he experienced with both his family situation and moving placements in turn impacted his studies at school.

“I couldn’t focus, and my head just wasn’t there,” Dwayne remembers.

It had to get worse before it got better 

He left school after year 11 with few qualifications but still persevered and began studying construction multi-trades at Southwark College. However, as his family situation worsened; relationships broke down and he became more and more involved with peers who were going through struggles themselves. This ultimately led him to a referral order with the Youth Offending Team. Dwayne served a 2-year sentence in prison during which he continued to experience instability – he was moved as many as 12 times during this short period. Whilst in prison, he received the devastating news that his Nan had passed away and he would not be able to attend the funeral due to Covid restrictions. All of this led to the realisation that he needed to do whatever it took to get out and never come back. More determined than ever, he used his time to gain qualifications including functional skills as well as his CSCS card.

Building a life 

It was on his release that he got in touch with Justin who began working with him to secure roles in construction. Dwayne moved to Cheltenham and we wondered what we might do, given most of our connections were in London. However – thinking it was a long shot – we got in touch with one of our partners, Willmott Dixon. Our main contact there, Matthew, has previous experience of working at the Prince’s Trust and is therefore both passionate and experienced in working with young people. We were delighted as Matthew was able sign Dwayne up with one their local labour agencies in Cheltenham.  

“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 Dwayne 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

The local labour agency was able to offer Dwayne a position on a project for Cheltenham Police Station. Since his first taste of work, Dwayne’s ambitions have developed and he is eager to become a painter and decorator which he is continuing to work with Justin on.  

“Willmott Dixon were fantastic and helped Dwayne get his first taste of the working world. I reached out to Matt not expecting anything, but he was able to deliver a role for Dwayne that will hopefully lead on to bigger and better things. Dwayne knows what he would like to do now in the future and hopefully that will be much more work with Willmott Dixon.”– Justin, Employment Consultant at Drive Forward Foundation

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