“Youth work has changed my life; now I hope to inspire others.”
My Dad died when I was two years old. When I was 11, my Auntie committed suicide and my Mum began to drink, and rapidly became an alcoholic. As a result I had to look after myself from a young age. We had weeks with no gas, electricity or even food. When I was 14, we were evicted from our house and moved in with my Grandparents and at this point I lost contact with my Mum. My Grandad died the following year, on the same day as my maths GCSE! Having no male parental figures was particularly hard.
I had my first contact with e:merge when I was 10 years old, I got involved with the Friday night activities and started attending after school drop-ins.
In time I began volunteering. I was mentored by one youth worker and spent time with another, both were vital during my teens. I ran away a couple of times and it was always the youth workers who rescued me. Over time they gave me the stability and emotional resilience to keep going and to achieve.
I was recognised as a peer leader – leading a lads group, becoming a member of a youth council and achieving a Sports Leader’s award. I was also involved in securing £100,000 for e:merge to develop the Bradford building. My first job, aged 16, was with e:merge, doing administrative work.
Now, aged 26, I am a full-time youth worker at e:merge. I have completed a degree in Youth and Community and my future is very bright. I am delighted to be in a position to continue the investment in young people and be part of the solution for the many who surround us struggling with challenges of all kinds.
If it wasn’t for the powerful influence of youth work and the investment e:merge workers have made in me then my life would have taken a very different course.