Danny’s Story

When you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up.

A former prisoner who dropped out of school aged 12 and has battled drug and alcohol addiction has turned his life around thanks to Blackburn community enterprise Newground.

Danny’s Story 

A former prisoner who dropped out of school aged 12 and has battled drug and alcohol addiction has turned his life around thanks to Blackburn community enterprise Newground.

Danny, originally from Leeds and now living in Rawtenstall, was living in a hostel in Blackburn following a relationship breakdown when he found out about Creative Engagement.

Delivered by Newground, part of Together Housing Group, the 10-week Creative Engagement project was funded by the Department of Work and Pensions through its Integrated Communities programme, which is part of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ‘Our Community, Our Future’ social integration programme.

The course combined classroom based learning on subjects such as ICT, housing pathways and substance awareness with practical workshops such as cooking on a budget, as well as field trips to connect the students to their local community.

Newground also helped Danny get his Fork Lift Truck licence, NVQ in warehouse and customer service and his maths and English qualifications.

Now he is looking forward to starting a new job as a warehouse labourer with a PC company in Haslingden that designs and builds custom gaming.

“Newground has done more for me than anybody. I’ve never had that kind of help before.

“I left school in Year 8 because I didn’t like it, I was always getting into fights. So I left to earn money by stealing. By 17 I was in prison serving a four year sentence and was back again in 2015. About three years ago, I left Leeds to get away from the people I was getting into trouble with.”

Newground actually helped Danny secure what he describes as his “first ever legal job” as a joiner via More Positive Together, a European Social Funded employment project. But when his relationship with the mother of his baby broke down, his life started spiralling out of control again.

“When I split up from my girlfriend, I hit the drink and drugs. Looking back it was stupid but it made me feel good at the time. I got into a fight in a pub and the police arrested me for assault and referred me to a mental health hospital. When I got out of hospital, I ended up in a hostel for nearly a year. I had to quit my job and I wasn’t allowed to see my son because I wasn’t stable.

“I’ve come a million miles since then thanks to Newground.

“I’d always been a criminal but Newground helped me get a CV and not just a CV but an honest CV. In the past I lied about my qualifications but now I can tell the truth.

“The future is looking bright. I’ve got a new job, my own flat and I’ve been clean and sober for nearly a year so I’m hoping I’ll be able to be able to see my 13-month-old son, who I’ve not seen for about seven months.

“When you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way is up.”

Funding for the DWP’s Creative Engagement programme has come from the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG). As one of only five national Integration Areas, Blackburn with Darwen is working closely with MHCLG on innovative ways to address the borough’s social integration challenges.

The Department for Work and Pensions is a partner in the borough’s social integration programme ‘Our Community, Our Future’. This three-year programme brings together a range of partners working together to strengthen relationships between people from different backgrounds, to help the borough become a place where diversity is valued and where people’s faith and cultures are understood and respected.

More information about Our Community, Our Future is available on the Council website.

For more from the students, visit https://vimeo.com/354873575

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