James (on the left) had a turbulent childhood. He started skipping school, taking drugs and getting into trouble with the police. He was taken into care and his future felt uncertain. After this, with the help of his foster carer, James was referred to our education and skills centre in Newcastle and had to make some huge adjustments to his life.
Speaking about his initial experiences with us, he said: “I messed around a lot. I was really hyper, I had too much going on in my head. But Nacro stuck with me, they worked with me and helped me settle down. They helped me get off drugs and get back on the right track.”
James started working harder, with the support of Nacro and his foster carers, he swapped to the mechanics course. James’ mechanics tutor, Chris Stevenson (featured in last edition’s staff spotlight) has been instrumental in helping James turn his life around. To Chris, James is a “great lad” who “just needed the right support in place and for someone to not give up on him.”
Chris created Nacro Newcastle’s Ambassador programme which connects local businesses with learners to provide work experience opportunities and second chances. James was offered work experience at Avondale Motors, a local garage owned by Joseph (pictured right), who was so impressed with James’ commitment and attitude to learning that he offered him an apprenticeship there.
For James’ foster carer, Val, it’s been amazing watching him on his journey so far. She’s hugely proud of all his hard work: “He’s a really kind, caring, young man who just never got a chance. He’s special, he deserves it all.”
James continues to study at Nacro to gain qualifications in maths, English and mechanics, alongside working at the garage. He’s also been nominated for a Gateshead in Care award for most improvement in education, training, and wellbeing: “I would encourage anyone who has had the same life as me to come to Nacro. I would tell everyone I used to hang out with to come. It’s been really good for me. Nacro has helped me a lot.” We can’t wait to see what more he achieves in life.