In my work I have had many amazing things said to me and seen some amazing outcomes. People will often comment on the work I do and those I have worked with. It’s a privilege to see a young person succeed and know that I may have had a small part to play in that. I have and will put my job on the line for the young people. I have put myself in some dangerous situations and will no doubt do so again to help a young person in need.
Working directly with young people on the front line all the way through to delivering training to practitioners, means that I have almost a double pronged attack on gangs and CSE in East Kent and surrounding areas.
I have worked alongside the polices, social services, ex-Gang members, ex-offenders, teachers… the list is endless.
I was asked to speak at the ministry of Justice for international women’s day 2018, to talk about the work I have been doing and how I have tried to change things for the young people I support. I have convinced young people on the run to hand themselves in. I have sat with parents whilst they have sat and cried about losing their children to the streets.
I am not putting all this down so that you look at me and say “Oh that Kendra, she is so great” I am just telling you the truth.
But let me tell you some of the other things that have been said to me or about me.
People have told me that I am a “Bad breed”. Parents would not let their children play with me when I was a child myself. I wouldn’t get invited to birthday parties.
I had to eat alone in the PRU I attended. I was not allowed to do any PE that involved physical contact with other students.
One of my teachers told me that I would be in prison or dead by 18. One of my teachers said she hoped it would be the latter.
I have done and seen things that mean at 38 years of age I very rarely get a full night’s sleep due to nightmares. Sometimes, in my darkest hours, I reflect on the suffering I may have caused in my past life. In my other life. I can hear the echoes of the past where people said that I was a “Waste of space”.
When I was 14 another young person said to me that they wished they had never met me. That I had ruined their life. The parent of that young person told me that I was born bad. I laughed in both their faces and went about my day.
I have done things that I wish I could take back. But I can’t.
I would listen to my mum cry at night but pretend that I could not hear it because it was because of me. It was always because of me. And when she would pull on my sleeve and beg me not to go and do what ever it was I was doing, I would shake her off and go anyway.
So, what does all the above make me? A good person who strives to help young people, who dedicates hours to try and ensure that no young person lives the life I had too. Someone who is out here doing instead of talking so that things can change.
Or does the past make me a bad person. A person who done bad things with bad people.
It makes me neither. It makes me simply human. People do good things and people do bad things. The children and young people we work with will also do good and bad things. It doesn’t mean we should give up on them. It doesn’t mean that we should shun them.
I was not born bad. I wasn’t born to help people. Things happened that led me certain ways and it is our responsibility as practitioners, caregivers, adults, and humans to try and support our children and young people to make the right choices in life.
It’s not about excuses. It’s not about blame. And it shouldn’t be about ego. Helping our young people to become the best they can be should be our duty. Just like we as practitioners, adults… Humans… need to learn from our mistakes and become the best “Us” that we can be.
Well that’s just what I think.