Phil Dodd, aged 20, works as an Apprentice Support Worker on Everton in the Community’s Safe Hands programme after originally joining the scheme as a participant following his release from a Youth Offenders' Institute.
When Phil was at school he was involved in an accident when he was cycling and went headfirst into a car.
“My head got stuck between the wheel trim and the wheel and it just ran over my head. They said I was a very lucky person to be alive that day.”
After school Phil went to college and found his friends were all making extra money by dealing drugs so he followed the same route.
“First it was just weed but then it went onto crack and heroin.”
One evening Phil was in a car with his friend and got pulled over by the police and was taken to the station where they were strip-searched and drugs were found.
“I got 18 months but because I pleaded guilty it was taken down to 10 months. My dad was in court but I didn’t want to look at him as I felt quite bad. I felt ashamed.”
After a few months in the Youth Offenders’ Institute, Phil was introduced to Everton in the Community staff where he found out more about the charity’s Safe Hands programme which aims to help young offenders in the Merseyside area integrate back into society after leaving secure care by offering them opportunities that they may never have considered as options before.
Phil signed up to the programme and for the next eight months inside the Youth Offenders' Institute met with the charity’s staff once a fortnight and spent his time working towards personal, health and social-related qualifications as well as receiving one-to-one support and mentoring advice.
Upon his release, Phil started attending Safe Hands on a daily basis where he gained 16 qualifications such as his FA Level One badge and GCSEs in Maths and English. Then, after hearing about vacancies within Everton in the Community’s Apprenticeship programme he put himself forward.
“One of the workers told me there were jobs going for an apprenticeship so I wrote a CV to my manager and was shortlisted. When I got the job it was a good feeling to get something positive and to tell my parents that I had a job with Everton.”
With the help, support and guidance of the charity’s staff Phil completed his Level Two in Sports Activity Leadership and is currently working towards his Level Three in Sports Leadership which he is due to complete in December 2015.
As well as working as an Apprentice Support Worker on Safe Hands, Phil is also a paid member of staff as a lead coach on both the charity’s Kicks and NCS programmes and harbours dreams of becoming a full-time NCS leader whilst continuing to work as a Peer Mentor to new participants on Safe Hands to show them that with hard work and determination, they can achieve the same results as him.
“It’s better now being employed; this life is better than what I was living before. I can coach, I have more qualifications and I feel more grown up now as a person.
“Everton in the Community has helped me realise that there are other pathways to go down instead of taking the crime route to make money. If I didn’t have Safe Hands then I don’t know where I’d be now.”
For more information on the programmes delivered by the charity’s Youth Engagement team click here.
To help Everton in the Community continue to deliver life-changing opportunities to help more people like Phil click here.