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Trainee Journeys

“I’ve learned how to build a positive narrative” – Michael’s journey

By October 22, 2020No Comments

‘Mine was quite a typical and straightforward childhood and home-life. But I was a bit of a class clown at school, and although I got my GCSEs, I got into quite a bit of trouble, and then dropped out of college to deal full-time.

I couldn’t tell you what I thought I needed the money for, why I sacrificed my further education for it. I just felt like I needed it, like I wasn’t ‘me’ without money. Some family members were in that line of work, so all it took was for me to ask them a favour to get started on my own.

I’ve been kicked out of home a couple of times for not toeing the line. Mum always worked, and wanted me to too. But once I was on the cusp of adulthood what could she really do?

Money in abundance: that was the incentive. But the lifestyle was toxic. Always trying to stay ahead of law enforcement, and competition. There were lots of raids, you’d feel lucky just to survive to the end of the day. Everyone you’re interacting with is difficult and unpredictable. You lose money, you lose stock, you risk handcuffs, you’re left physically and mentally drained. That’s a lot of losses.

I’ve renounced all that. I know how this game ends—dead or in jail—and I want to leave it behind before it’s too late.

I have a lot to compensate for — for my own sake, for my Mum. That’s why I’m engaging so vigorously with Switchback now. What Switchback proposed really appealed to me: the prospect of building a CV when I didn’t have one; having a mentor; work placements. At first I didn’t see the point in working for free, but now I see I need to demonstrate some humility.

The last job I applied for was in 2012. Even though I had no work experience when I got rejected I vowed never to apply for another job—that was how unrealistic and impatient I was. Switchback are helping me see that I need help and can’t do things on my own, that things will click into place if I’m patient and committed.

They’ve sent me on interview training where I’ve even learned how to build a positive narrative about my time in custody: so it’s not just something depressing, or that you want to omit. I can talk about what I did to improve myself and my situation.

Switchback's enthusiasm is infectious. To say they’re with you every step of the way is no exaggeration.

The really big thing about Switchback is that everyone has just so much passion. They will fervently push for your goal. And their enthusiasm is infectious. They’re more than just telling you the right direction. They’re tailing you, like the proverbial guardian angel. To say they’re with you every step of the way is no exaggeration. They do so much more than it says on paper.

And the biggest difference is that they’re not pretending. They’re genuine — with so many people they’ll only care as much as they’re paid to care. It seems like for everyone at Switchback, helping people somehow means more than just a pay-cheque.

I only realised what an amazing thing we have in this country, in terms of education, really late. But I’m seeing friends graduate from university now. I sat it out, trying to get rich. Before, I didn’t consider it a prospect — but now I’m hoping that university will be a big part of my future plans, down the line.

I’ve pumped my brakes and I’m trying to do things properly this time. I’m just really lucky I engaged with Switchback when I did. I still would have been committed to succeeding on the straight and narrow — I have so much riding on this — but I would have struggled so much more without their help.’

Michael, 2019

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