“Before I was always fighting on the streets, I was being rude to my teachers, misbehaving at home and not getting the education I needed. I was making life worse for my family and myself. Now I am not fighting on the streets. I am doing well in school. I now go home to see smiles on my families’ faces instead of frowns. That itself tells me I’ve accomplished something. I truly believe that I am now setting my straight path to success. After I get good grades in school, I would like to go college and study law. After I have passed my A levels I would like to go to university to get a degree in law. If I was still fighting on the streets then I would have no chance in reaching these goals, instead I would be working in a take away, which is not the life that I want.”

Asif, 14, Stoke-on-Trent


“I started using Class A drugs when I went to University in Luton. I also started selling drugs when I was at University and got involved in gangs and serious crime in my area in Reading where I live. We built up a fearsome gang in West Reading and had ‘beef’ with another gang in East Reading. The two gangs had created an American type East Coast versus West Coast gang warfare, the only thing was this was not America it was East and West Reading in Berkshire, UK. My addiction to heroin got so bad that I was once doing a drug deal and I got robbed, stabbed and was bleeding to death, I was left to die and nearly did die.

Life had hit rock bottom for me and enough was enough I wanted to change. I was very lucky to come across the organisation Engage Communities. The Round House project helped me to get my health, fitness and well-being back again. Engage helped me to change my life around. They provided me with one-to-one mentoring and coaching which helped me to get my career back on track. I now run a charity, which works with drug users and gangs in Reading. The educational workshops I did with Engage helped me to finish my dream of getting a degree. I am at the University of West London in the final year of my Criminology degree. I also have my own business, a travel agency, I want to use profits from the business to help organisations like Engage that are doing a fantastic job with vulnerable people, who are in the situation like I once was. Engage never gave up on me and where always there when I needed them.”

Bobby, 32, Reading

“Urban Expression Cobridge has been working with Engage Communities since April 2013 on our ROC Sport project. Engage is a very professional organisation. The quality of the coaching has been exceptional. The coaches understand the needs of young people, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. They are both encouraging and challenging and have been able to bring out the best in the ROC Sport members. Whilst there are still challenging behaviours, we have seen changes not only in footballing skills but also in the general attitudes of the young people towards others. We would unreservedly recommend Engage Communities.”

Dr Iona M Jones, Urban Expression Cobridge

“Every young person  faces so many challenges. Whether it’s  getting and keeping your life on track, getting the most out of your education, finding work, or making where you live a better place to live – organisations like Engage Communities are making a difference and are there to support.”

Joan Walley MP for Stoke-on-Trent North


“I am proud to be the Patron of Engage Communities, an organisation that creates positive changes in the lives of socially excluded and disadvantaged people within our communities. I believe that tackling Social Exclusion and Health Inequalities is everyone’s responsibility and Engage Communities inclusive approach empowers people and focuses on their potential to make a difference for themselves. Engage Communities it is a vital community resource that can create life changing experiences for everyone within the local community from individuals to families and neighbourhoods.”

Lord Kamlesh Patel

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