Daniel is well-known to staff at YMCA Newcastle over the last 8 years as he attended our ‘YOU’ alternative education project following his exclusion from school in 2009 and SPACE2… City Centre youth project afterwards.

While at the ‘YOU’ project, Daniel was often in trouble for his disruptive behavior. He was also involved in violence and drug misuse outside of school and he was arrested several times. Ultimately, Daniel was sent into custody for violence in 2015 and spent 2 years in prison. He was released 5 months ago and was classified ‘high-risk’ for re-offending by the probation officer.

After his release, Daniel returned to SPACE2… and told staff he wanted to make big changes to his lifestyle and get a job, but this proved very difficult given his criminal record.

Daniel was given a chance to work as a Business Administration apprentice at Urban Mushrooms, he started working at the urban farm in October 2017. Since starting work at Urban Mushrooms, Daniel is now well on his way to getting robust, vocational qualifications in business and is flourishing in his work at the farm. He is a well-known face around the City when on coffee-collection rounds and enjoys opportunities to sell fresh mushrooms and grow boxes to clients around town. Staff have noticed remarkable changes to his attitude and behavior and he is now polite, hardworking and committed to turning his life around. He has been demoted to “medium risk” for re-offending by his probation officer, and the officer has told us he anticipates that Daniel will be demoted again to “low risk” soon due to the positive changes that the apprenticeship has brought about.

His Mother wrote to us recently to express her happiness with the changes she is seeing in Daniel and said that YMCA Newcastle has “brought Daniel to be the Daniel that we know”.

To Daniel, YMCA Newcastle is “like a family” and he sees his apprenticeship as a way of “giving something back” as well as turning his life around and accessing opportunities to work that he would never otherwise have had.