Bobby's message is getting home
PUBLISHED: 14:40 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010
WHEN Bobby Singh starts talking to youngsters about drugs, behaving responsibly and not breaking the law, they are likely to roll their eyes at yet another adult telling them what to do. But by the time he s finished his introduction they are hanging on h
WHEN Bobby Singh starts talking to youngsters about drugs, behaving responsibly and not breaking the law, they are likely to roll their eyes at yet another adult telling them what to do.
But by the time he's finished his introduction they are hanging on his every word.
Bobby, who is 35 and works with the young people's charity Rap-Aid, is a former drug user and convicted criminal who not only got off drugs but turned his life round completely.
His wake-up call came when his wife gave birth to the first of his three children, eight years ago. Bobby, who has lived all his life in Letchworth GC, realised he had had enough of being a user with no future. He turned his back on the bad crowd he had fallen in with and determined to get clean.
"I kept my habit a secret from my wife for a substantial amount of time," he said.
"She was very supportive of me when I was trying to rehabilitate myself.
"It was the kids who really got me sorted out and made me realise I couldn't carry on like this and that I didn't want to. I wanted to be a productive parent and a responsible father.
"Then I was struggling to get myself employed. People weren't willing to take a chance on me but fortunately Foley Adigun at Rap-Aid saw something in me that a lot of other people could not. I started with Rap-Aid on a voluntary basis to see how it would go."
It went very well and Bobby is now a full-time and vital member of staff doing a job he loves, helping youngsters keep on the straight and narrow, building their confidence and arranging activities such as the forthcoming Letchworth Festival.
"Rap-Aid is the best job I can imagine doing. Usually a person in my position would be looking at doing menial labour, not organising projects and being put in a position of trust."
He still finds that his background is a problem though, as he points out to youngsters. There is still a lot of scepticism about employing people with convictions to work with vulnerable groups.
"It's so easy to get yourself a criminal record and not really have a direction in life," Bobby said.
"I try to use all the negative experiences in my life, everything that went wrong, to encourage people to look at their situations and understand how the consequences of something they do now can come back years later."
He focuses on the decisions he made that sent him in the wrong direction and tries to get the youngsters to recognise similar moments in their own lives and make the right decisions.
Bobby's commitment and Foley's faith in him were recently rewarded when Bobby was given an Against All Odds award at the North Hertfordshire College Community Awards.
"It was a fantastic moment for Rap-Aid," said Bobby.
"We finally got some recognition for what we do. I was nearly in tears, it was amazing.