I used to get into trouble quicker than you can ever imagine. In
fact, trouble would come looking for me – and it usually found me.
I was well known by police everywhere and I was getting worse.
When I was younger I was in and out of care homes and never felt
that I belonged anywhere. I always got involved with the wrong
crowd and felt like I was a nobody because no one cared about me.
At school I was behind and felt I had nothing going for me. I hit
rock bottom when I was 14 and was moved to yet another care home.
After only three days there I was arrested by the police again.
Two staff from health care provider Craegmoor arrived at the police
station and took me away as an emergency placement to its
children’s services. We went to the Alpha residence and chatted for
a while in the kitchen. They were different; they were nice and
friendly and didn’t judge me.
As I was two years behind with my education, children’s services
secured extra funding so that I could be privately educated. Within
nine months I had caught up. The support I was given was
invaluable, they met me halfway and gave me the chance to prove
When I was 16 and ready to move into the community on my own I went
to live in Craegmoor’s supported living service for young people in
Thanet, Kent. They focused on helping me to become independent. It
was friendly with no hassle and they kept me away from trouble. I
could talk to the staff there and they helped me keep my head down
and achieve my own goals.
I was allocated an outreach worker, John Forrest, who supported me
with my day-to-day problems and advised me on planning my financial
commitments. He also gave me the emotional support I needed. He
recognised my potential and didn’t give up on me like so many
others had done. John showed me loyalty, respect and was always
there when things got tough. He encouraged me to continue my
education and take part in training schemes.
My social skills have come on in leaps and bounds. I used to talk
like I was a machine gun and I found it difficult to interact with
people because no one ever listened to me. Now I’m much calmer and
take my time when I talk to others because the staff listened to me
so I didn’t have to shout to get attention.
My dream came true when I was offered an apprenticeship at the Army
Foundation College at Arbyfield in Berkshire. I had really wanted
to get into the army and have a proper career; I just never thought
it would be possible. Now I’m a qualified combat engineer and doing
advanced training. I love my job and am ambitious. In 10 years I
see myself retired from the army with my own business and settled
with a family. Four years ago I could never have imagined life
beyond being in trouble. I’m so lucky I found people who care.
Chris Burt is 18 and training in the army