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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Real life: from prison to speaking at parliament, Ryan Brown has turned his life around

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Ryan Brown from Glasgow recently received a certificate in parliament as the 7,500th Community Jobs Scotland employee in a Scottish charity

I was born in January 1996 and just a year and three days later my baby brother was born. Unfortunately my younger sibling passed away due to an unexplained cot death and so I started my life journey with a piece of myself missing and didn’t understand why.

After that things got worse, as my father did a lot of bad things and left my mother shortly after my brother’s death, leaving her to cope with me on her own.

Growing up was a bit of a blur but I remember my mum then met the man of her dreams. He started to bring me up as his own and shortly after they had a baby boy together.

However, things in the family home didn’t go as well as they could. Things started to get drastically unsafe for me and my brother as my mother and stepdad were drug users and also violent alcohol users.

We ended up in a really vicious circle of domestic violence for a number of years and I had to shelter my younger sibling, who is now 12, away from a lot. I saw things that no child should ever see. We ended up on supervision with social work and for a small period of time ended up in residential care.

After time we got to go home but then I turned to alcohol, which in turn lead to me being involved in gang violence and offending behaviour. I picked up a lot of charges as a young person and became a bad influence to myself and others around me. After a while, at the age of 15 to16, I left home.

At this point I started being rebellious to all authority and adults. I went through hostels and ended up in prison on separate occasions.

Things got even worse when my stepfather passed away through suspicious circumstances and I lost my cousin, who was also my best friend, in the same year.

Eventually though I got tired of being in a bad circle and I made a choice to make a change and choose a different lifestyle.

I started volunteering with Move On, a charity which works to help vulnerable young people and those affected by homelessness improve their lives. While volunteering I used its different services and took the help that was offered to me.

Recently I have secured my own tenancy for the first time and have a stable relationship with my girlfriend.

From initially volunteering at Move On, I now have a job there as a trainee development worker.

Last week I got to speak about my experiences at the Scottish Parliament. I was really thankful to be able to introduce myself. I believe I have a really bright future now.