Despite currently living in a homeless hostel, my life has really changed for the better over the last few years. From an early age, I suffered abuse at home and my mindset was that I could treat people the way I’ve been treated. You form a bond with other kids going through the same issues and - in my opinion - this is where the whole gang mentality comes from. As a child, being part of a gang felt like a good life, mainly because there’s no one to show you any better.
Eventually, I got expelled from school and referred to a new college for specialist help. There I received a mentor who’d exited the gangs. He taught me respect could be earned without instilling fear in others. I started taking my studies seriously and got into sports. Exercise disciplined my mind and I even won a Jack Petchey Award for the positive changes. But people in my local area still knew me from my old life. I needed to leave, and ended up moving into a homeless hostel in another London borough so I could start a clean slate.
I’ve trained as a personal fitness instructor but my income isn’t stable. Lots of my friends work in security, I know there’s a demand for this job, and it’s quick to train up. Once I’m working full-time, I’ll finally be able to leave the hostel and, for the first time in my life, move into my own place. 5 years from now, I want to be comfortable with a flat, independence, and hopefully starting a family of my own. But for now, I need to take this first step.