Brandon, 19, Leamington Spa

How did you know about abob?

I was referred by my social worker to help me get off drugs. I met up with Jon Temple for a chat. I was in a place where I wanted to change but I didn’t know how to do it. So abob came along at the right moment.

How was the Quest weekend?

At first, I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet others and have fun! But it was completely different to anything that I’d done before. I expressed a huge amount of feelings. There is one piece of work within the weekend that involves a power stone, I broke it in half, that’s how much anger I was holding onto. That was immensely useful.

How was it for you to be around so many men?

What was great was to be around young men of my age. That felt so good. I felt safer and freer to speak up.

How has being part of abob benefitted you?

I feel as though I’m a better person. I’ve been learning a lot about being able to ask for help. And to not be afraid of asking. I’m experiencing some problems around work at the moment, so am reaching out to abob to support me.

Emotionally, I couldn’t tell other people how I felt and abob have been supporting me around this. My own parents don’t even know half of what I’ve been through.

Could you tell me a bit about growing up?

I was beaten up by my brother every day when I was a young lad. And then I was beaten up at school too. I was bullied every day. I had to fight every day at secondary school. My parents still don’t know all of this happened. They thought I wasn’t telling the truth. I was neglected at home – I often didn’t get enough to eat – because my parents were going through their own stuff. My dad didn’t get involved often, he just did his own thing.

So that must have severely affected your schooling?

It did. I failed all my GCSEs.

How are you doing now? 

I’m feeling a lot happier. I’ve been clean re drugs since September 2021 and alcohol-free for five months. I still smoke tobacco. And I’ve stopped self-harming.

How was your mentoring process?

It was amazing to have someone to have a chat with. It really was. I shared my feelings with him. He also gave me a lot of support re work. We managed to see each other most weeks. I’m still seeing a mentor now.

How are the weekly meetings?

I always attend them. There are a lot of young men there and that really helps. I know if I stopped going, I’d go downhill very fast in terms of drugs and alcohol.

How was your Homecoming Ceremony?

I was nervous. My cousin came and that was something. I don’t like attention in general, but I was chuffed by what was said about me.

How is it with your family now?

My mum is very different now I’ve grown up and got my own flat. It’s gradually getting better between us. I’m more able to talk to them now. My dad gave me some money to help me out recently. That was amazing. And my younger sister is keen for me to go round and play with her. She wants to have a protective older brother and I can be that

What are your intentions for the future?

I want to find work as soon as possible. I also want to start a new group to support girls – a band of sisters. I think that’s really important, that they have their own abob. I want to find a girlfriend, get married and be happy! And I’m going to move to Bristol and make a new start. My girlfriend lives there.