"Before Street Elite I was doing a bit of bar tending here and there. I didn’t have a permanent job or any direction in my life. I found out about Street Elite through Ross, a local youth worker. He led football sessions once a week and got me thinking about what I could do for work. I didn’t have much confidence at all, but he told me I could achieve things if I put the work in.
I did a two week construction placement for Berkeley over the summer. At first it was daunting – everyone knows their job and there was all this technical jargon. At the end of the experience, I was lucky enough to be offered a job. I’m now working as a Technical Assistant on a regeneration site in Southall.
One year on, I’ve still got a long way to go, but I have an idea of what I want to do in the next four years of my life.”
Yasar Ugur, 21
"When I left school I started a sports degree at my local college. I liked it and was doing ok, but soon fell in with the wrong crowd. I made friends with some older guys thinking they’d help me out. But it didn’t turn out that way. I got involved in their gang, started getting into fights and was bullied into taking drugs. I missed a lot of studying and was eventually kicked off the course.
In 2009, things changed. My aunt passed away and a few months later I lost both my granddads. It hit me that life is short. I thought my life could go two ways– the right way or wrong way. I grew up seeing my dad struggle. He was always cancelling his holidays so he could bring more money in for the house. I wanted to make life better for me and my family.
I found out about Street Elite through the college and signed up quickly, excited to turn my life around. The first day I went I felt embarrassed, like everyone else would be much better than me. But I soon realised they were the same. The coaches were really supportive and realised what I was going through. They helped me find positive things to do.
The sports were great because they got me away from the bad influences. Just a few weeks into it and I knew what I had to do. I cut ties with my old contacts. I changed my number, deleted my twitter and deleted my Facebook. Months later we delivered some sessions for kids on an estate in Bow. I saw these 11 and 12 years olds starting to get dragged into the same things as me. It was amazing to see how playing a bit of football distracted them.
I finished the programme in June and was offered a placement with Berkeley. I told them I didn’t know anything about building, apart from you could be a handyman banging a nail on some wood. I was nervous, but I knew it was worth it to get it on my CV.
I went there and immediately got a real buzz from being with the construction team. They honestly looked after me like I was family. They extended my contract for 6 months but I did so well they made me permanent after just three months! When I got my first pay cheque I bought takeaway for my family to say thank you for supporting me.
I love the work I do now. What we’re doing out there is building for the future. The people I’m surrounded by are so positive and supportive.
My life now is different to what it used to be. Every pay cheque I get, a keep a couple of hundred back and then give my family the rest. It’s made a big difference to us. My dad used to be supporting me, but now I’m supporting him."