I haven’t written for a while about my life as a homeless teen or my work to help and support young people so I thought this post was overdue.
I was motivated to start writing and follow another new and different path in my life nearly 2 years ago after the death of a childhood friend who had also experienced homelessness but our paths split a long time ago and I regretted not spending more time with him before he died.
The last time I saw Paul he was living in a squat with some other young people. There was no electricity and no proper heating, some of the floors were missing where they had been ripped up to burn on the only open fire in the property for heat and cooking. We were both only 16 years old at the time and it was a difficult time for both of us. The last conversation we had was a heated chat about money and the meaning of friendship. His last words to me are still ringing in my ears and occasionally it plays on my mind that our last conversation was not a better one.
Paul was a very honest and straightforward person with an unquenchable thirst for adventure and I always admired him for all of those qualities. His lifestyle of travelling and living outside of conventional society may be frowned upon by some people but he loved his life and stayed true to who he was at all times.
Our lives could not have taken more different paths in every way. After a long period of reflection after Paul’s death I realized I had become a “corporate suit”, at times dishonest and standing for very little. This was the opposite to the person I was when I was 16 and I wanted to do something about it.
Part of the change was to face up to my past and with the help of my wife I talked openly about it for the first time and started documenting some of it. Another extension of that was to write down how I changed my life and offer my advice to others on how anyone from any background can achieve great things.
My final from this personal transition was to inspire and support people and give some proceeds of the book to various charities (currently at the time of writing this, all revenues from the book have gone to supporting charitable work). I especially wanted to help young people who needed push in the right direction.
This final wish came true a couple of months ago when I was the keynote speaker at a conference in Kent, England. It was a charitable event organized for young people who are at risk, some were homeless, in foster care or had special needs of different kinds. I flew back to the UK especially, covered all my own expenses and did the talk for free because it meant so much to have the chance to inspire the type of young people I wanted to reach out to.
After the talk I was mobbed, asked to sign my books and surrounded by smiling positive faces that wanted just a little time and some questions answered. It was overwhelming and I had to go outside to my car because I was in tears and overcome with emotion at such a hugely positive reaction to my work.
At that point I was struggling to get much support for my speaking work and book sales had been slow after an initial good start so I was beginning to wonder what I was doing it for. After that day I haven’t worried since, I am blessed to have swapped some stories with those young people and they inspired me as much, maybe more than I inspired them.
This week I have been in touch with Jimmy Wayne and after looking at his Project Meet Me Halfway http://projectmmh.org/ I realize that I have hardly scratched the surface of what is possible.
I would like to encourage everyone to be true to yourself and be a good person in all that you do and if you are a young person experiencing difficulties you can make it, there is always hope and if you want some direct advice from me go to the contact page and send me a message. Also if you know a young person who needs help, guidance or any kind of support, don’t leave it to someone else and don’t regret not helping them later when they disappear from view, because by then they may already be on the street.
Wherever you are in your life; be lucky.
If you would like some help with marketing your business or just to share your experiences I would really like to hear from you. Get in touch via the form below and I will email you back.