Tyne Stories: Terry’s Story
Our employability programme aims to provide our residents with the right support, guidance and education to help get them to a better place. Terry was one of our first residents to sign on to the move-on scheme, and he later joined up with the employability programme in June 2021. We spoke to Terry to learn a little about his journey and find out how the programmes have worked for him.
“I’ve lived in Newcastle my whole life, born and raised in the West End. When I was 13 years old I went through something pretty traumatic. I feel like this had a serious effect on me and it definitely had a massive impact on my school life. I became pretty rebellious, if I was told to do something I would just do the exact opposite. Before long I found myself in a pretty dangerous relationship with drugs and alcohol – this eventually led to me becoming homeless for three months.
This was a rough point in my life. I was with a lass at the time and people would just look at us as if we weren’t even human. I remember people from town would come up to us drunk and just spit on us. It was awful.
Eventually I ended up staying at Byker Bridge House for about two weeks. The staff there were canny, they helped me get sorted with appointments to deal with my alcohol and drug addictions. These appointments were typically at around 9am but by this point I was so determined to get clean I was getting there for 8am. All I could think about were my kids, I needed to get clean for them so I could be the Dad that they needed in their life. Without my kids I reckon I’d be lost.
Tyne helped me get into a shared accommodation. My support worker Shanaz was mint, definitely a massive help. Having that kind of support around you and just knowing I could go to her with anything I might need help with was such a blessing. All the lads that I shared the accommodation with were canny as well, we had some good laughs but I was still kind of keeping to myself a bit.
At the end of the day though I knew that what i wanted was my own flat and again Tyne helped me with this. I was one of the first people to apply for the Move-on scheme which helped get me sorted and now I’m living on my own for the first time. It’s honestly been great, it’s nice just having my kids around more often. I feel like I can have more of a presence in their life. This hasn’t been without its struggles though, especially with bills and that. The employability coach Debbie was a massive help during this time. She helped me get sorted with getting bills set up and getting through to Citizens’ Advice and stuff like that.
In June 2021 I decided to join up with Tyne’s Employability scheme. I thought this would be beneficial to me and to be honest I was sick of sitting around on my arse all day. I feel like the course and all the work I did with Debbie helped me with living independently. It was nice having a bit more routine in my life too. I can’t thank them enough for their help.
I’ve learned all sorts since being on the course; we’ve been doing nutrition courses which will give me the equivalent of GCSE grades. We’ve also been learning general life skills like cooking and what not. I plan on putting the cooking skills to use soon when I volunteer for Crisis at Christmas. I’ve been through the system, I know first hand how rough it can be. All I want to do now is give back what I can and help people who are in the place that I used to be at. That’s why I decided to become a Peer Advocate with Crisis. I did my training with Chris Reed who’s the Vice Chair at Tyne and he was a big help. As a Peer Advocate it’s my job to help people who are struggling to access services get that access. It can be really difficult to find the help that you need – I know this from experience so being able to help others really is a great opportunity.
Getting my own flat is definitely my proudest achievement so far. It’s in a nice area and all my neighbours are lovely, I often go to the shops for the elderly woman next door if she needs any bits and pieces. I feel like I have everything I need here. My end goal is still finding full time employment though, as much as I love volunteer work it doesn’t pay the bills. I’ve done loads of jobs in the past but that was before I had a criminal record. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve had an interview that went really well but then they do a DBS check and I don’t hear back from them again.
It’s frustrating that some employers still view me as a criminal despite how far I’ve come, but I’m determined to find employment. It’s too easy to give up in this world with so much stigma around people like me but I’m persistent, I know I’ll find work eventually. Right now there’s days where I’m walking all the way to South Shields to see my kids. I need a job so I can see them more consistently and that’s what keeps me going.
At the end of the day I’m just a regular bloke from the West End. If I can turn my life around then anyone can.”
Terry is a devoted father and a hard working man however the stigma of being an ex-offender is something that still holds him back from finding employment. 87% of employers perform background checks on potential employees and people with criminal charges are sometimes overlooked, making it difficult for people to get back on their feet. We are so proud of Terry and how far he has come, we wish him the best of luck in finding work.