19 year old Dennis has hardly been out for weeks. He lives with his Mum who is vulnerable with health problems so even before the Covid lockdown he was worried about the pandemic.
Like many of us, he’s not used to being indoors so much. A year ago he was busier than most, travelling long distances on county lines and forced to deal drugs for the gang he worked for. Some time ago, he regarded them as his family until the reality set in - working gruelling ‘shifts’ in crack houses meant he had to stay awake for days on end. Things became nasty when he tried to walk away. The gang set Dennis up to be robbed and he accrued a drug debt meaning he had to work for free to pay it off.
Things came to a head when he was stabbed in the leg. He’ll suffer from the pain of this for some years to come but it was also a turning point. It was when he was put in touch with us at St Giles. Our caseworker – who broke free from a county line himself a few years ago – knows exactly what Dennis is going through. Over time, he helped Dennis gradually reduce his county line activity and get him and his Mum the helped they needed from places like the council, his local college and GP. When they could see other people involved, the gang started to back off Dennis and we could start to help him pursue his other ambitions.
Now he’s at home self isolating, this is critical moment. With both Mum and Dennis indoors all the time – and young men like Dennis often have good appetites - money is very tight. Dennis could go back to his old ways to put easy cash on the table. However, with the encouragement of his caseworker he has so far stayed strong and we are very proud of him. He’s showing consideration, responsibility and thinking about the long-term. Considering where he was a year ago, this is a huge achievement.
At St Giles, we believe people have the power to turn their life around – no matter what their situation. Many of us have been in similar situations and use our past experiences to inspire and support those living through it right now.
Dennis has nine GCSEs and wants to develop his own business. We were in the early stages of helping him get started and lockdown is an ideal moment to help him keep focused on is business plan. But there is one crucial setback - he needs a laptop.
By donating just £10 you can help us keep Dennis occupied and continue getting his life back on track. These are extraordinarily challenging times for all of us. If you cannot donate at this time – no problem as we of all people know the life-changing effect this has had on most of us. But you can still stay in touch with us and find out more about our work.
Thank you for your help and stay safe and well.