Growing up between Wallington and Croydon, 16-year-old Kyle found he was getting caught up in anti-social behaviour and was becoming increasingly disengaged with school, with his behaviour seeing him placed in a Pupil Referral Unit.
It was at this time he was put forward for Breaking the Cycle, the Palace for Life Foundation's targeted intervention programme that aims to reduce youth crime in south London by working with those aged 8-19 who are recommended by schools, the police and agencies such as the Youth Offending Service.
Experts help give participants a positive focus in life and can direct them towards training or employment, with young people encouraged to set and achieve goals in order to improve their resilience. Nine months since starting the scheme, Kyle has improved his life skills and ability to take on responsibility, and now has a job at the Crystal Palace club shop.
Reflecting on the impact the programme has had on his life, he said: “It’s helped me a lot. I don’t know where I’d be right now if I wasn’t here. I’d be in prison, or on tag, that’s the way my life was going.
“Working at the Palace club shop is good; it keeps me off the streets. My daily life is always stressed, but somehow getting a job has taken some of it away as I don’t have to worry about where I’m getting money from.
“Before, I wanted people’s first impression of me to be that I was a thug, but now, I realise that doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ve got to be polite, respectful and those are the things that will get you far.”
Kyle’s mentor, Targeted Interventions Officer at the Foundation Ernest Eghan, added: “Kyle’s transformation has been really impressive. He’s still learning but the key thing is he’s broken that cycle of reoffending and continuing with anti-social behaviour, and he’s equipped himself with the tools to get through life. He’s ready for the real world.”
Kyle is now looking ahead to the future with a renewed optimism: “I want to have my own business, make my own money and be able to travel; basically be free.”
Help the Palace for Life Foundation support more young people like Kyle, by donating through this link.
Breaking the Cycle is backed by the Premier League, BBC Children in Need and the William Wates Memorial Trust.