Happy Birthday, Dave!

Who’s Dave?

Dave’s the lad, the joker, the leader of the gang, the comedian. He’s the shoplifter, the drinker, the no-gooder, he’s out ‘til all hours getting up to high jinx.

What happened to Dave?

He ended up inside. He’s no good.

Anyone who’s known me for any time will have seen my long flowing hair recede over the years. Time has taken its toll on my locks, yet I’ve still spent many a day wanting to pull my hair out.

Dave’s one of hundreds and thousands of young people SCVO’s Community Jobs Scotland team works with

I’ve endured years of frustration at how society deals with young people like Dave. Instead of nurturing these lads, these valuable potential leaders, they are made more vulnerable, more dependent on a life of misery.

Dave’s just one of the hundreds and thousands of young people SCVO’s Community Jobs Scotland team works with.

I’m one of that team. I’ve watched as youngsters like Dave grow up in a scheme, having to survive in an environment of drink, domestic abuse and poverty, just to end up in care. Or become looked after, as it’s now known – same thing, just a different name

Dave’s story is all too familiar. A spiral of events led to him losing his pals. He was always the one who’d do the stealing or go to the offies for the carry outs, not the pals. They had a parent or parents to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Not Dave, though – he had loads of addresses, different foster carers, schools, and eventually, several custodial sentences.

I meet Dave and he’s back in custody again. But this time he says it’s different.

Big Tam, his former prison officer, says “It’s time for an action plan Davie boy, I’m fed up seeing you in here! If this keeps going on, you’ll end up an old man with no life, no wife, no kids, nothing. And you deserve better than that”.

What a turnaround from Tam. These days he’s a Throughcare Support Officer. When he was a prison officer, he would’ve been the first to admit that he saw guys like Dave as wasters.

“See that job Davie boy got with a little bit of help from the Scottish Prison Service and SCVO, well, he cannae take it. The homeless hostel want £350 a week if he starts work, and as part of his release conditions, he needs to stay there. He also cannae get a bank account or a doctor.”

I tried to help. But after weeks of going round the block with the DWP, the government, housing and every agency under the sun, I was beat into submission.

Davie was too. ‘Smiler’ as I now called him, ended up back at Her Majesty’s pleasure for a month, for something as daft as sending a stupid text message.

During this spell inside Davie behaved, worked out, did a responsible job, and was a pass keeper. He showed himself to be a natural leader, a friend. He was always smiling.

Tam says that’s how Davie saw himself as a kid, and that the boy’s got potential for change.

Dave tells me that he’s sees a change in Tam too: “I cannae believe how big Tam is doing all this stuff for me. He was a right ticket as a Prison Officer, always shouting and bawling at everyone. But he’s really helping me now.”

With Tam’s help, Dave came right. He got a house, a CJS job, and is now a full time member of staff in a Community Trust.

So remind me, who’s Dave?

Dave is a man, a friendly guy, a supervisor. He’s a talker, a doer, a helpful guy.

Watch that Dave …

He’s great at his job. He’s a great parent and role model for his kid.

What happened to Dave?

Well, he got there eventually, with a little help from his real friends.