You know it’s life if your plans just change like that, whether it’s drastically and abruptly, or over a long period of time.” 

Gabriel recently went through a dark patch in his life. His daily routine became repetitive; eating, sleeping, stuck in his room, day-in-day-out. His depression stemmed from having something he loved, something he had dedicated his life to, suddenly taken away. 

The 19-years-old was an aspiring athlete with the Tottenham Hotspurs under 18s. For years, his whole life had revolved around football as potential long-term career. But then, his dream was shattered when he was released at the age of 17. 

“That was the hardest part of my life… it’s like losing your identity… when I was in my room the feeling of just helplessness and having no option… it is just absolutely terrifying.” 

Today, Gabriel dubs this episode “unhealthy”. He was lucky to realise by himself that he couldn’t carry on wasting valuable time. He finished his B-TEC qualification in sports and was thinking of taking a gap year after college. However, as for many young people, money is a serious issue. As he wasn’t sure whether he would be accepted in university, his next priority was finding a job to sustain peace of mind, preferably something decently paid and full-time. 

That’s how Gabriel came to Drive Forward. He completed a work placement with our partners at Hill+Knowlton Strategies and took part in an exciting trip along the Camino trail. He then got accepted at university and has recently started his Psychology course. At the same time, he is taking on a part-time job in a local law-firm, diving into the world or practical and applied law. 

His interest in psychology and criminal law has developed early on, from himself experiencing therapy as a child and observing the world around him. 

“My mother suffered from great depression which, unfortunately, made her unfit resulting in her laying her frustration on between me and my half-brother. Since I was 7 years bouncing from home to home seemed the norm till I settled at a family of four when I turned 13.” 

Gabriel’s experience of care was a positive and happy one. He was able to pursue his hobbies, meet different people and lead a sociable life. He could have moved into semi-independent when he was 16, but together with his foster family, they decided that it would be more beneficial to him to stay with them for longer. 

“…now I’m 19 and they’re still happy to have me so they’re great people.” 

It’s sill fair to say Gabriel is still testing waters of where he wants to take this degree but without a doubt “this is something I see myself doing 30 years down the line and what I want to make my whole life about”.