Future's Bright for Jermaine

9th January 2015

Self admittedly, sixteen year old Jermaine Taylor was a bit of a "nuisance" when he was younger and regularly got on the wrong side of the law and into trouble at school. Jermaine always had a passion for sport but when he was just 14 years old, he was on the verge of receiving an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO). Fortunately for him, the Positive Futures project intervened and gave him the support and the opportunities he needed to make necessary changes to his life.

Positive Futures has been running since 2002 and was awarded £280,000 from Gwent PCC Ian Johnston's Community Safety Fund two years ago. The project uses sport and physical activity to help inspire young people at risk of crime and substance abuse and acts as an alternative to anti-social behaviour.

It provides one to one mentoring for young people and diversionary engagement programmes, training and personal development opportunities which can lead to qualifications or employment.

Jermaine is among the thousands of young people from Newport who have benefited from the support, advice and guidance offered by Positive Futures. Since joining the project in 2012 he has gone from strength to strength. The project put him on a sports coaching course when he started and he is currently a volunteer sports coach with the project.

He has clocked up hundreds of hours in a variety of different volunteer coaching sessions in the community. In June 2013 he scooped the Newport Sports Forum 'Mentee of the Year' award and last year he won the Newport Sports Forum 'East Cluster Volunteer of the Year'. Jermaine secured a 'C' in his GCSE PE exam and has also been accepted into the Gwent Dragons Rugby Academy where he hopes to achieve his ambition of becoming a professional rugby player.

He has also completed his Football Association of Wales Football Leaders Level 1 course, and the Sports Leaders Level 1 and 2 courses. He now has all the necessary qualifications needed to become a paid member of staff and the project hopes to take him on as a paid Casual Sports Coach this year.

"I used to mess around in the street, be a nuisance and I would get into trouble with the police quite a lot," explains Jermaine.

"I have been mentored since October 2012 and in that time I have had the opportunity to learn about a number of different sports, some of which I had never played before. I've been volunteering in the community for a long time. I first started doing football sessions and after school sessions and then I started doing Friday night projects running and pool sessions and things like that. I now run my own weekly football sessions in my community of Somerton. If it wasn't for this project I'd be going down the wrong road and causing trouble on the streets."

Jermaine is now working with young people who are going through the same experiences and has been working as a mentor with 15 year old Ethan McShane since the start of 2013.

"I've been through what he's been through and I understand him," says Jermaine.

"He'll listen to me more because I've been in the same situations as him. Hopefully that will stop him messing about and focus on his future and on doing something he really likes. Hopefully he'll put everything into that and get somewhere."

Nobody can be prouder of what Jermaine has achieved over the last two years than his mentor at Positive Futures, Mike Rosser.

"Jermaine came into our programme when he was on the verge of getting an ASBO," recalls Mike.

"There's times where we've had to step in and support him but he's now fully engaged, rarely misses a session and his commitment has been massive. A lot of our workers, like Jermaine, have come through the actual process."

Highlighting the importance of the project, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "This project is an excellent example of what engaging with youngsters early can achieve. I am very proud to support Positive Futures and the fantastic work they do with young people. More widespread use of restorative justice and co-ordinated support for hard to engage youngsters is a key element in preventing offending and re-offending. Positive Futures has worked with hundreds of young people, helping them to learn new skills, gain qualifications and find employment. It has made a huge difference to the lives of many at-risk young people in our communities."

You can watch and listen to Jermaine's full story in this video http://youtu.be/mbWAWgGuQJ4