Our birthday month is finally here!
That’s right – September 2022 sees Move On turn 25! To celebrate, we’re telling stories from the last 25 years. What better way to show you the importance of our work? We want you to hear from those people whose lives we’ve changed.
Ryan’s story is a perfect example of what we do at Move On. Ryan was referred to us as a teenager. At the time, he’d struggled with a number of issues, including gang culture, addiction, and experience with the criminal justice system.
Ryan became experienced with grief early on in life, due to the loss of his younger brother to cot death. Ryan was just a year and 3 days older than his younger sibling, and believes that because of this, he “started my life journey with a piece of myself missing, and didn’t understand why.”*
Following this, Ryan’s situation became increasingly challenging. Ryan’s mother was left to raise him alone, after his father, who’d been prone to abusive behaviour, left shortly after the passing of their youngest son. She later met a new partner, who raised Ryan as his own, as well as fathering Ryan’s younger brother. Unfortunately, both Ryan’s mother and stepfather struggled with their own battles with alcohol and drug addiction, creating an unsafe and frequently violent home situation for Ryan and his younger brother. This meant that Ryan felt he constantly had to protect his younger brother, and both children spent time in the care system.
Reacting to the stress of this environment, Ryan eventually turned to alcohol himself in his early teens. This is turn led him to become involved in gang violence and criminal behaviour. He rebelled against authority, picking up various criminal charges, and becoming, in his own words, “a bad influence to myself and others around me.”* He also suffered the losses of both his stepfather, and his cousin and best friend within the same year. Eventually deciding to leave home at the age of just 15, Ryan then suffered periods of homelessness, often spending time between youth hostels, and spells in prison.
After completing our award-winning Employability Fund course, Ryan was a changed person. On completing the course, he continued to volunteer with us at our FareShare Glasgow & the West of Scotland depot. He then secured a job with us as a Trainee Development Worker, helping other young people with stories like his own. Ryan then went on to work in mental health support, changing lives himself.
We caught up with Ryan to find out what he’s been up to in the years since training with us. He shared what 25 years of Move On means to him.
How Were You Involved With Move On?
“I used to be supported by an organisation called Includem. My Includem worker told me about the Employability Fund course they offered here, so I went through the course as a young person and completed it. A post then came up for a trainee development worker. I applied for it and got the job for a year’s contract. I was here for about 10 months all in instead of the 12 because I had a baby, but it was a really special time.”
What Made You Want To Work With Move On?
“When I was younger, as a teenager, growing up, I was in gangs. There was a lot of misbehaving, not engaging with authority and support. That’s the reason I had the Includem workers. Once I started to take their support, it made me want to put a wee bit back into the community. Move On gave me a great foundation to do that. That’s why I went on to become a Trainee Development Worker here after doing my own course.
My role meant that the course I did as a young person, I then went and facilitated for other young people. It was a bit of a mad transformation, but it was so good, I loved it. And then going into schools and all that stuff as well, and teaching. Well, not teaching, but finding a common ground with young people who’re misbehaving in school and maybe don’t have a good support network at home or in the community. So they kinda rebel and that’s why they’re misbehaving. Just going in and finding a common ground with them and giving them a bit of my experience, my lived experience. I don’t know if it ever did, but I hope it could have helped some of them. Because you can relate to them. I’d never have been able to get the opportunity to do that if it wasn’t for Move On.
It’s the lived experience that’s important, it’s the same even for myself. When I’m working with other professionals – say for talking’s sake if I’m talking to a mental health professional. If they’ve just learned about what I’ve been through, and not actually lived it themselves, I won’t find that common ground and connection with them. I think for those of us working with young people, having that lived experience makes them relate to us, makes them actually accept that help and support we could be offering them, you know? I think it’s a really important part of working with young people in the community.”
What Have You Gone On To Do Since Working With Move On?
“So in the past, I’ve had addiction issues, and other stuff to deal with as well – chaotic lifestyle, relationship breakdown – but I still managed to sustain employment after I left here. About 3 months after the baby was born, I got a job as a support worker in mental health. When I went for that interview – if I didn’t have the experience working with Move On, I wouldn’t have gotten that job. I got a good job because I had that experience already of working in the sector. I do really have Move On to thank for that.
Getting that job meant I went on to support service users with severe mental health issues and disabilities. It was really challenging, but both working with Move On, and then doing that job made me realise what I want to do with my life. And that’s helping other people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
What Was Your Favourite Thing About Your Time With Move On?
“Do you know what – when you’ve lived a life like mine, you never fit in anywhere. You’re always looking for your belonging in the world, there’s just nowhere in the world that you fit in. When I came to Move On, after going through the programme and coming back as a worker, I finally fitted in somewhere. For the first time in my life, it felt like somebody was actually listening. That for me was probably the highlight of my time at Move On.
And then I also got opportunities like going to parliament; I went to the Scottish Parliament and told my story because Move On gave me the platform to do that. I don’t even know how I managed this one, but I was the 2500th person to be employed by Move On on the dot. There were four of us trainees at the time, so I don’t even know how they knew it was me – maybe I got picked out of a hat.” (Editor’s note: we promise we didn’t – he was also the 7500th Community Jobs Scotland charity employee!)
Amazing – Can You Tell Us More About Presenting To Parliament?
“It was so nerve-wracking – I had to write it all down, write my life story. I can remember going there and feeling like… I’m just a boy from the scheme, do you know what I mean, this is WEIRD being at parliament. And there’s just all these people in suits, and I think Angela Constance was there, she presented me with an award. There were speakers before me, people walking about with champagne, and I just felt like – this is so mad. I’d honestly forgotten that I was coming up, and suddenly they go ‘right, we’ll get Ryan Brown out on the stage…’ Oh my god, see my anxiety at that point?
I had the guys from Move On there supporting me though, the other trainees and workers. So I did it, I shared my story. All I could see when I got up there was these people in suits, I felt like I didn’t have a clue what was going on or who I was talking to, I was so nervous. But I got it out there; then I had people coming up to me afterwards, saying that I had helped put a light on things. I’ve got trauma, I’ve been through prison, and then I’ve changed my life quite drastically. So aye it was an amazing experience – it’s in the paper and everything.”
If You Could Describe Move On In 3 Words, What Would They Be?
“Life-Changing, and Inspirational.
The people that work here, because of their life experience, they want to make a difference for other people with disadvantaged backgrounds. I think that’s dead inspirational. I could talk highly of Move On all day long. It’s just an amazing organisation; one I’d probably like to come back to and do more work for honestly.”
What Do You Think Our Next 25 Years Should Look Like?
“Definitely expand your services – get more workers, get more offices. Like Glasgow’s a big city, and I know you’re in Edinburgh as well, but we should be expanding it across Scotland. Because there’s not enough support out there, with lived experience for young people, there just isn’t. It’s not wide enough, it’s not common knowledge. Just make it common knowledge for people, for young people to KNOW that the service is there. Giving Move On the tools to continue supporting people for the next 25 years? 100%, they definitely deserve it. Definitely. Hopefully we can get there.
If I never found Move On that day…I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. It changed my life, it really did change my life for the better. It gave me a future to look forward to.”
Is There Anything Else You Want To Add – Any Other Move On Stories You Want To Tell?
“Do you know what, with Move On – and FareShare, where they run the employability courses – it’s not just about character building. It’s a big part of it, because a lot of young people come through the doors and don’t have any confidence, nothing, no self-esteem, and it’s all about building that back up. But it’s not like they do that and then just leave them to their own devices, they support them through the mentoring services, the employability programmes, CV building, getting them into some sort of employment. That for young people is priceless, because being a young person you don’t exactly go and look for that sort of stuff yourself, you do need that support to show that it’s possible. I think that’s what Move On does, and I can’t talk highly enough of them. I just thank them for the support they’ve shown me over the years.”
£25,000 For 25 Years
If you’d like to help us support more young people like Ryan, please do donate to our campaign to raise £25,000 to help us change lives for another 25 years.
If you know of a young person like Ryan who could use our help, please look at our current employability programmes.
Every penny counts, so we really appreciate your support. Fundraising has been harder than ever over the last couple of years, while our services are in greater demand. Please give whatever you can.
*Credit to TFN opinion piece, ‘Real life: from prison to speaking at parliament, Ryan Brown has turned his life around.’ for quotes in the first section of this article