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This Is My Story

My name is Bilal Boulaich. I am 18 years old and have spent most of my life living with my mum in my Estate in East Brighton. I started getting into trouble with the Police when I was 13 years old. For the next three years I was in trouble for fighting, drinking alcohol, causing criminal damage, arson, and joy riding stolen cars. I rarely went to bed before 3am or got up the next day before 1pm. In 2009, my youth worker recommended me for the Quest programme with A Band of Brothers. I did the initial weekend training with them and got a mentor called Pete who’s a painter and decorator that lives in the same neighbourhood as me. I met with Pete every week and he helped me to believe that I could achieve my dream of becoming a mechanic one day (even though all the local colleges had turned me down). Pete also supported me to go to the weekly groups with A Band of Brothers where I learnt better ways of dealing with conflict and expressing my emotions. In 2010, I staffed my first weekend with A Band of Brothers, supporting and mentoring other young men who had got into similar trouble as me. Later that year, I got an interview with a local garage for an apprenticeship as a mechanic. I practiced being at the interview with some of the men from A Band of Brothers and felt a lot calmer and more confident when the day came. It’s no surprise I was totally made up when I got to tell everyone that I had been offered the job.I am now nine months into my three year apprenticeship and on track to becoming a fully fledged technician. I start work at 8.30am and finish at 5.30pm. It’s my dream job and I feel so lucky to be doing something that I’m genuinely passionate about. I’ve also passed my driving test recently and feel really proud to be driving my own car. I also feel really grateful to A Band of Brothers and, in particular, my mentor Pete. I can safely say that their support has made all the difference to my life. I hope I can make the same kind of difference to other young men in the future!