I can admit that growing up I had a pretty hard time. I don’t use it as an excuse for anything and I try not to think too deeply into things from that time but I do respect that my past had a lot to do with why I ended up being referred to Llamau, but more importantly, it has everything to do with who I am today. I’ve learnt from my past and worked hard to make sure the life I have now is one born from wanting more for myself and my family. My kids will never go through what I did as a child.

My father believed in old fashioned discipline and my mum was an alcoholic. I remember I used to beg her not to buy alcohol but she’d just bribe me with some chocolate and I’d give in. I was a kid so easy to manipulate. I remember a lot from those years, like the day a Social Worker came to pick me up from school to take me into foster care. He said my mum couldn’t look after me and I had to go away for two weeks. Those two weeks turned into seven years.

School throughout this time was hard. I was bullied quite badly, which chipped away at my self-esteem. I’d act out in class a lot because I felt so angry that other people were making choices about my life. My experience of foster carers over the years wasn’t great until my last parents. When I moved in with them I started to recognise how important school was and how I was messing my education up, so I started to behave and try hard.

When I separated myself from the ‘troublemakers’ and made some good friends I did better in school, which I’m thankful for now. When I left school I went straight into work but it was mostly factory jobs. I told my Social Worker I was really bored of factory work. There were no opportunities to progress myself and I struggled with how easily they would let you go. I think I’d just been let go again and signed on for universal credit when he referred me to Llamau.

I joined Llamau’s SYMF programme, which helps you gain employment. My Employment Liaison Officer, Kris, made contact with me quickly and we arranged to meet. He practised a few mock interviews with me but then an opportunity came up with Torfaen Leisure Trust so I had a real interview ahead of me. Kris was really supportive during the interview but I tried to make sure I came across well myself. I wanted the interviewer to know I didn’t want to feel like just another number and I knew how to be an individual but work in a team as well. I felt so happy when I was offered a job as a Sports Assistant with them.

I worked so hard from the day I started my job. I turned up early every single day and showed as much initiative as I could. Kris checked in with me and my manager regularly to make sure everything was running smoothly. After about four months into my role, the CEO recognised the work I was doing and offered me a permanent role. I spent that whole day with a massive smile on my face. I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my wife I’d been offered a permanent contract.

Since then I’ve been promoted to Sports Supervisor in one leisure centre and I’M I’ll be promoting to Relief Manager in another soon. I love the fact that if you work hard and show initiative here it’s recognised. They don’t try and suppress ambition.

I can’t thank my Social Worker and Llamau enough for the support they gave me to change my employment options. The SYMF programme is definitely worth going for if you actually want a job. If I hadn’t gone for it and worked hard I’d still be in jobs I just didn’t want to be in. 

Employment gives you structure and something to strive for. It gives you a chance to get a grasp on your life and make something of yourself.