I moved to Croydon in 2012 from Zimbabwe when I was 12 to live with my mum. I was bullied at school and my behaviour started to change. I got involved with a group and started getting into trouble by fighting and stealing.
When I was 13 I moved into a foster home. I lived in three different care homes and foster homes in two years. When I moved to the third foster home, my older foster brother smoked and I wanted to hang around with him and his friends. I started to get involved in criminal activity such as stealing from people and handling drugs. My foster brother got moved because they thought he was influencing me. I got expelled from school at 14 and started to get involved with other groups. I got caught up in some very serious gang crime and I went missing several times. Most of the people I was involved with at that time are currently in prison.
At 15 I decided I wanted to stop being involved with the gangs but people started to make threats to me. I asked my uncle to live with him and I moved up to Salford in October 2015. Salford Council were unable to find me a school place so they supported me with an alternative curriculum. I did functional skills and a sport and active leisure diploma with YMCA Manchester on a Monday and Wednesday, alongside a personal development and employability programme with Princes Trust, and a spray paint course with the Skills Company. I completed all my courses and got an apprenticeship place with Skills Company.
I now work at a garage in Manchester doing my Level 2 Light Vehicle Maintenance course. I hope to go into the Army when I’m 18 to do mechanics.
It’s been hard moving to Manchester and away from the people I knew. I’ve had to get used the differences with the way people speak up here and had to be taught what a ‘brew’ is! It’s been difficult changing my life but YMCA Manchester has really helped, and I’m pleased with the positive choices I’ve made. I enjoy not having to worry so much anymore and I like earning money by working hard for it.