I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a child. I started using drugs when I was a teenager and went to prison when I was 17. From prison I was referred to hospital. Now I’m living in a hostel. I found out about First Step Trust’s SMaRT Apprentice programme through another resident. I was looking to do mechanics and trying to find a course and he told me that FST had a garage with work placements.
Although I enjoy my mechanics course, it’s more real at SMaRT. At college they say treat it as a customer’s car but you know if you break it it’s not the same. At SMaRT I’ve got to be clean, I change my gloves if I go inside the car. When five cars come into the garage you’re under pressure, you know you’ve got to get the job done. My work placement at SMaRT is helping me gain my qualification at college and it’ll mean I have experience too, not just a certificate.
At SMaRT you get a lot of responsibility. I feel trusted – that’s a new feeling, especially when you’ve been in prison, hospital, on drugs. When you’re on drugs people think you might be lying. I lived six years with that mistrust, no responsibility, just laying around because everything’s done for you.
I feel completely different to when I was 17. I feel happier and healthier. I feel energetic. I want to get a job, I want to get a qualification, I want to do something with my life. I’ve wasted six years, I want to start now.
Names have been changed