J has known George Turner for a number of years (since he was on Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme - ISSP over 9 years ago). J was sentenced to this for numerous offences and was subsequently given a one year prison sentence for robbery, when he was 15.
When he came out of custody, J approached George and requested further support because his mother was making him homeless. George assisted him with his housing and kept in contact, offering support as and when he could. Although J used to get into quite a lot of trouble when he was younger and played a lead role in a local Wandsworth gang (renowned for violence and drug dealing), he decided to try and turn his life around when he was made homeless. He did this by cutting off the negative peer group that he used to get in trouble with and in fact made efforts to move out of the area he was brought up in, so as to help him stay out of trouble.
George stayed in contact with J (as support) and remained very impressed with his change in lifestyle. He asked J to take part in a scheme along with other ex-offenders to deliver some anti gang and crime prevention work.
In this role J did a lot of volunteer work with Acton Safer Neighbourhood Team. This took the form of both one to one and group work, with hand picked young people. They were targeted by both school, police liaison officers and the borough intelligence unit as being at risk of offending and gang involvement.
The feedback that George had from the Sergeant was very positive and he asked for J, in particular, to stay involved in their work, by helping deliver a number of workshops on gang and crime prevention. Alongside this J was also used by Acton Safer Neighbourhood Team to do some one-to-one sessions with a vulnerable young person who was at risk of offending. The result of this work, was that J was nominated for a Borough Commander’s Commendation from the London Metropolitan Police. He received this commendation on 21/04/09 for, “Using his own time to steer senior school pupils away from crime and assisting in other community issues”.
Since then J has also assisted George with certain events and workshops in Wandsworth that are based around offending, confidence building and girls groups. An opportunity then came up at Battersea Arts Centre to be trained up in theatre lighting and technician. George referred J onto this. Although they were concerned about his criminal record, a character reference from George and his commendation, convinced Battersea Arts Centre to allow him the opportunity. J was very successful in this and it resulted in him getting full time work in the Royal Court Theatre, as an assistant stage manager.
Unfortunately, as one of the crew with the least qualifications J’s hours were reduced when the credit crunch hit the theatre. So J offered to do some more volunteering with Carney’s Community. During this time Carney’s Community forged a link with Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) in London, who were open to give opportunities to ex-offenders who had shown that they had shown willing to turn reform their lives. J seemed the perfect candidate for this so was referred over for a trial period. RSA were very impressed with both J’s attitude and commitment, so they have agreed to keep him on, for 2 days a week, where J is working as a runner and brushing up on training around IT. He is also working with another film company, supporting them on film shoots as well as doing some bar work on a casual basis.
Having worked with RSA for 6 months J was backed by the company to create a film/documentary on his life, that challenges the way young gang members/affiliates perceive their choices and to destroy the myth that because of the way they've been brought up/area they live in, their chances of success are unlikely. J put together a treatment for this documentary and was supported, by RSA, who donated equipment to Carney’s Community, that J could use.
Following two years of hard work and determination, J has now, not only been backed by the BBC to do a full length documentary on the topic mentioned above, but has also been backed by Vice to do another full length documentary on a recent murder in our local community.
J still remains a part of Carney’s Community and has come down to film events and support the charity in any way that he can, recently taking on a mentoring role. He is also a fantastic role model for what people can achieve, with hard work, and determination, no matter what their background.