How automotive can help turn lives around

Nacro - James

When life is turbulent it can be difficult to find direction, but automotive can offer a chance to change route and aim for something better

Just a couple of years ago, Nacro Newcastle learner James was aimless, involved in drugs, and with an uncertain future ahead of him. Now he’s turned his life around and has been nominated for a Gateshead in care achievement for most improvement commitment to education, training, and wellbeing.

James’ turbulent childhood saw him taken into care, and eventually he started skipping school and hanging out with people who didn’t have his best interests at heart.

Out on the streets, James became involved with substance misuse and getting into trouble with the police. When he was referred to Nacro, the Social Justice Charity, it was the beginning of an enormous change: “I messed around a lot,” he said. “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,” said James.

James’ mechanics tutor Chris Stevenson said: “James is a great lad, he just needed the right support in place, for someone to not give up on him and show him that he’s worth it.”

Newcastle Centre Manager Sarah Brown added: “We’re all so proud of James, he’s really applied himself and worked hard. It’s great to see that work recognised outside of Nacro.”

James started working harder, with the support of Nacro and his foster carers, he swapped to the mechanics course and undertook work experience at a local garage. Joseph, owner at Avondale Motors, who supports the Newcastle Nacro Ambassador project giving young people a second chance, was so impressed with James’ commitment and attitude to learning, he offered him an apprenticeship. He’ll continue to study at Nacro to gain his Maths, English and Mechanics qualifications while working at the garage.

James said: “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.”

James’ foster carer Val has credited Nacro with being a driving force for positive change in James’ life. She said: “He’s really applied himself, he’s grown and become really mature, he sees that he has things worth working for now. He has a supportive home and a good job, he wants to look after those things and work for them. We’re really proud.

“James has just fitted into the family, he’s a really kind, caring, young man who just never got a chance. He needed someone to show him some rules and that someone cares. He’s special, he deserves it all. Seeing things like this make it worthwhile.”