Alfred is a voluntary advisor and mentor, and now runs his own business.
Growing up football was my main passion; I had a talent for it, physically, mentally playing but my attitude wasn’t right.
If I hadn’t necessarily been discouraged and if I had been encouraged I might of actually felt the confidence to go and pursue that passion. At the time when I committed my crime it was because I turned my back on my passion what I really wanted to do.
When I went to prison I received a custodial sentence of 10 years and 18 months. I was saying to myself, it’s not the end of the world, when I get released I’m going to be relatively young so you are going to have to make the most out of it.
There was a lot of resources in prison, and it was up to me to decide for myself how can I utilise these resources and be able to use them when I get out.
So I went to a resettlement prison and they ask you, what would you like to do? I said I would like to do coaching. I had a bit of experience before I got released because I was in an open prison and I got to work for Charlton Athletic.
It was a life changing experience, I saw very similar kids to myself from disadvantaged backgrounds but there was a passion for football keeping them focussed. Coming back to the area one thing that stood out for me is there’s not a lot of things for young people to do and if you haven’t got something constructive for them to do they probably they could go down the other route which is doing something negative — so give them a chance and the right tools to apply it, and that’s where the coaching comes in.
Now you can see me with a lot of the players here, they lose their temper all the time, I mean we go through issues sometimes where they find challenges and it’s how they deal with it. I thought to myself this is going beyond coaching, what am I actually doing? So I actually asked and did my own research in terms of what is this service and its called mentoring.
I got in touch with Plias, a voluntary organisation in London, and from my first conversation it was always welcoming. Left me open to the different opportunities that they put in front of me such as the mentoring programme and 18 months later I’m here, as a voluntary IEG adviser plus a mentor. I’m formulating my business, being given that confidence to go out and network with other organisations. I decided to turn the mentoring through sport and activities into a business simply because I’ve actually been in this situation before.
I’ve got a lot of valuable experience and skills I can offer someone else. This is really my calling, this is my passion.
What keeps me going is making a difference in my local community. Growing up, what would have been the difference in my life? Maybe something like this.