Leslie Abrokwaa, 26, served three and half years in prison for robbery as a young man before turning his life around with the help of Salmon Youth Centre. Now he is set to start his Youth Work and Theology degree at Cambridge University from September 2017 – something he describes as “a dream come true” and “nothing short of a miracle”.
Speaking of his criminal past, Leslie says, “A lot of my friends were making a lot of money selling drugs. It seemed quick and easy so I decided to just jump in. I then got involved with robbery after losing my job and ended up with a three and half years prison sentence.
“The hardest part of jail was seeing my mum lose so much weight, seeing her fight back tears when she came to visit me, and hearing her say the words, ‘I didn’t think I’d ever see you in a place like this.’”
Leslie now works full time at Salmon Youth Centre, teaching music to young people as a Youth Worker, and performs part time as a rapper under the stage name ‘Forever Skye’.
Describing his new life, he says, “I love the job I do. I’ve never had a job where I’m happy to come in, even on days I’m not supposed to. It’s something I’m really passionate about, to be able to sow seeds of positivity in young people and to know that every young person has their own story and their own journey.”
Leslie’s story wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood movie, but it’s not a fictional story with a made-up feel-good ending- he has worked hard to change the direction of his life.
Excited about starting his part time course at Cambridge University and graduating in four years, Leslie said, “Sometimes I still can’t believe it – that after going to prison I’m now working in this great job and about to be studying at Cambridge. I’ve now got to really make sure I finish my degree and make my mum proud.”