I was brought up in a good home with great parents. I was always a “wild child” by nature and would always seek out thrills that would get me into trouble. From 13 onwards I became uncontrollable.
I started hanging out with a large local gang that has existed in Leith since the 1950’s. It’s a culture and way of life for most young people who are “street wise”
Criminality, drugs and drinking became the norm. We would seek out fights with other gangs and defended “our territory” with everything that we had.
Out of a tragedy which saw my best mate killed on a stolen motorbike, a vision began to grow amongst a group of adults who were mostly parents of gang members. Over a long period of time this has led to the formation of a Ltd. Company & Not for Profit Social Enterprise called Freedom Unlimited Enterprises.
Freedom Unlimited was formed to mentor, train and employ guys like me, with criminal records who struggle to make a fresh start and to find decent jobs because of our pasts. Not many companies are willing to take the risk of employing criminals (understandably) and so Freedom exists to try and break the link between unemployment & re-offending.
The good thing with Freedom is that it’s not just “do the course” and then out the door – they are like family. One great thing has been the fishing trips. Not many of us had fished before but now we can’t get enough of it (and we are actually catching fish now!)
Freedom Unlimited are always there for us, mentoring, sharing, helping – but always giving us keys that we can use to develop ourselves.
My own personal key was overcoming unemployment by starting my own business. I thought that having a business was way beyond me – but with their help and business support, I have my own plastering business – and I am now earning a good (and honest) living. My customer reviews are great, I am getting loads of referrals and repeat business and my confidence is growing daily. I now have an employee who is an ex-offender working for me. I firmly believe that self-employment is a good route for many of my peers and so I continue to remain “on-board” with Freedom Unlimited to share and help my peers to find their own talents and to start their own businesses.