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!). 

A product of environment

I am a product of that environment. I embrace the ruthlessness, but in a positive way, through remaining focused and aggressively meeting my goals and investing into myself to grow.  My determination to strive and grow into the individual I am today comes, paradoxically, from the fact that I come from an area where I know a lot of people don’t even finish secondary school, let alone graduate from University.

I attended Haverstock secondary school which at the time, in the borough of Camden, was notorious for being the school which had a lot of kids who weren’t the best behaved. I wasn’t the best behaved growing up, however, my experience in Haverstock led to developing into young leader. I was my secondary school football team’s captain for 4 years and was known as an influential individual among my year group by staff. After finishing secondary school with a total of 11 GCSEs, I attended sixth form in LaSwap where I completed my A-Levels to progress into university. 

I finished university in September of 2019 and spent a year living in Reading. I felt lost as I didn’t graduate at the same time as my peers and was working at a job where I didn’t feel valued. It was a very frustrating period for me; I had been away from my home in London for over 3 years by then as my foster parent ended the care leaver agreement after my first two months in university, which means that I could no longer live with them. 

Trying something new

I was advised to take a look at Drive Forward. At the time, they were preparing young people for the Civil Service Care Leavers Internship scheme. I attended an afternoon session which covered information about the internship, the opportunities that come with it and the great career experience it would offer. I was interested from the very start and with every following event I my interest grew and I became eager to apply. 

The process involved completing an online application, followed by a 1-hour long panel interview at the Department of Education. Prior to attending the interview, however, Drive Forward as well as Camden’s employability service (a session organised every Wednesdays at Vadnie Bish) provided assistance and support to ensure that I felt confident and prepared at each stage of the application process. 

2020 started out pretty well. I learnt that I was successful in my interview with the Civil Service and was offered a role as an Executive Officer. I then attended my graduation which was one of my highlights this year. This was a pivotal moment for me, as throughout University I felt like losing some bits of my character. I was homeless for a while and unable to return home to London. There was a time where I had been staying in hostels, however, I began feeling not at ease which led to me staying outside of London generally.  

Knocked down but not held back

It’s taken a long time for me to finally be back in London and I am grateful as the time I spent away provided me with the opportunity to explore life outside of London. Afterwards it has taken a while for me to start my new job due to the unfortunate circumstance of a pandemic occurring (COVID-19). This had an impact on my mental health as I returned back into London two days prior to the lockdown. At the beginning, I was drastically de-motivated as I felt lost and hopeless. I kept consistently preparing for this opportunity, only to be left in uncertainty of when I’d be able to put everything I’d learnt into practice. I searched for a new focus and I was advised by my employment consultant Felix to start jogging, which I did consistently throughout the months of April, May, June and July. 

Now, I’m looking forward to starting my role at the beginning of August, which I have been anticipating for so long. Drive Forward have been running weekly sessions in preparation for the role which I’ve found very useful and I am more than confident that I will strive within my role. I am grateful I have this opportunity to work within the civil service. I never thought that I’d be who I am today when my journey began, but I am grateful because I wouldn’t change it for nothing. 

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