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Written by Andrew Ruscoe, ex-Nacro learner

I was born and raised in Wrexham. As a youngster between the ages of 18 and 24, I was I extremely hard to handle and easily lead by the wrong crowds. I got into drinking excessively, experimenting with drugs, and I was fighting a lot which lead me to gain two cautions on my record.

I felt I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t going anywhere. I had been rejected from many jobs due to my cautions. I needed an opportunity to break the cycle I was in.

I found out about a programme Nacro was delivering in Wrexham, aiming to help rehabilitate people in the community with things like job searching and gaining qualifications so that they could make a positive change in their lives. It was back in March 2012 – exactly 10 years ago – that I enrolled onto the 12 week course.

It was brilliant and gave me structure in life, instilling the value in me of helping create positive impact within the local community. It made me see light at the end of the tunnel.

It also enabled me to undertake a work placement where I worked with staff member, Andy, who inspired me to make further changes in my life and think about where I wanted to go in my career. Thanks to his encouragement, I went to Wrexham Glyndŵr University where I studied a Youth and Community BA, a PGCE, and a post grad in Sports Coaching and Development.

The work experience was the highlight of my time. This practical aspect helped shape my thinking and pushed me further in my journey into education. As a youngster I always wanted to be a teacher but I felt I’d blown those chance, until Nacro gave me the courage, strength and desire to push myself.

It has now been 10 years since my first steps with Nacro and so much has changed. I now work in education. I run my own traineeships, work as an employment advisor, professional football coach, and within the prison environment.

Without Nacro’s support, I would not be the changed person I am. I think I would have ended up in prison, but instead I ended up on the other side of the bars, working in a prison for 12 months.

I’m now able to share my experiences and knowledge within the community so that others don’t make the mistakes I made whilst I was growing up.