Testimonial from Hackney to Melbourne

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10,000 miles later ... from Hackney to Melbourne.

(Testimonial from one of the earliest young people to come on to our independence training programme.)

My name is Gabriel Parker. I grew up in the orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill. With my 2 brothers and 2 sisters, I was brought up in a very strict environment. We were very poor and had to rely on handouts of food and clothing to get by.

Things really began to go pear shaped for me not long after my 13th birthday. Our family was rocked by the effects of abuse and began to tear apart. I began to steal money from my parents and run away. I was doing poorly at school and no longer wanted to be involved with the religion, especially in light of what was going on with the family at the time.


The only bright point was my discovery of Rugby which I began to play after watching the 1995 world cup. I was soon playing both union and league at the weekend but had to sneak off on Saturdays as my parents would not approve.

I left school at 16. I flunked my GCSE's with mainly D's and E's and my confidence was at an all time low. I decided I wanted to leave home and began to look for a place on my own. I had a tough time due to my young age.

I was referred to an organization called Next Step. I was assigned a Youth worker called Julian who soon had me in a bed and breakfast while more permanent accommodation could be found.

This gave me breathing space from my family and the community and allowed me to enjoy life a little more. I could play rugby with no disapproval or sneaking off. I tried to get back into study at a local college but was having a hard time getting motivated and my confidence in my academic abilities was quite low which did not help!

Fortunately Julian did not let me laze around and delivered an ultimatum "study or work". I chose work and with Julian's help was soon working for Whitbread at their conference centre. The money wasn't much but at least I was getting experience of having to manage my finances.

Throughout the one and a half years I was with Next Step I had great encouragement from all the team there. Julian provided me with the support and advice I had never received from my family or Jewish community. This helped me develop better social, community and coping skills and allowed me to become responsible and independent. By the time I was 18 and getting my undertaking job I was pretty much fully independent and getting on with life. I still saw Julian regularly but now as a friend not a client. I am still friends with quite a few of the Next Step Team to this day.

I now live in Melbourne, Australia with my beautiful wife Carla and our two awesome sons, Caleb and Asher. I've returned to my studies, with Carla's support and this year I'll graduate from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology as Doctor of Chiropractic.

I can honestly say that without the help of Next Step (and me occasionally listening to the advice of their awesome youth workers) I may never have gotten to this point. They provided me with the skills and independence to make full use of the opportunities life has offered me.

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Read 1538 times Last modified on Friday, 27 April 2018 06:53
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