My week: Junior Smart

An ex-gang member helps others escape through the St Giles Trust's SOS Massive project.

Junior Smart
Junior Smart

Monday: I get up feeling totally focused. Over the weekend, I discovered that a 20-strong female gang is in the process of being formed, and this has been on my mind ever since. I was approached by a member who wants out but is scared. Strictly speaking, we don't have the funding to work with her, but what could I do? Turn her away? I couldn't, so I arranged for her to come into our offices today. She looks really scared. We sit down to talk.

Tuesday: I am meeting a client who is being released from prison today. Having the right support network on release is essential. He had a £300 a week cocaine habit funded through robbery and burglary. I need to make sure he stays drug-free and get him engaged in training and employment. Fortunately, the St Giles Trust, which runs SOS Massive, offers a number of courses, and I get him on one that will start in a few days. He looks at me and says: "I made it, Junior." I smile back and reply: "Yes, you have."

Wednesday: I go round to check on a few clients. One has fallen out badly with his girlfriend, who - he claims - is back on drugs. She says he hit her and she wants him out. I sit them both down to talk. He is still fuming. I make a referral for him to come to our Brief Intervention Service, which provides support services to people with drug and alcohol problems. I give her the number of a domestic violence hotline.

Thursday: I go to Rochester Prison to see some clients. One of them is a high-profile gang member. We talk about the past and I realise he has a complete lack of identity. I do some work with him on self-esteem, and I think I get through to him. Experience tells me that our work is only just beginning.

Friday: I attend court with one of my clients to provide a character reference. He admitted committing the offence of which he is accused, but that was before he joined the SOS Massive project.

He has made positive changes and is now mentoring other kids on his estate to help them escape gang crime. Fortunately, the judge doesn't give him a custodial sentence and he gets a second chance.

At the end of a long day, I go home tired but relieved. At around midnight I receive a call from another client. His friends have just assaulted someone and he feels trapped. He was there, but he didn't do anything. What does he do now?

- Smart drew on his own experience to develop the SOS Massive project in south London.

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