Zachariah tells his story from coming to Drive Forward as a young graduate looking for a job, to working with us as an Outreach Coordinator.
To me success is being able to say, “I enjoyed myself, I helped people and I earned money”.
As a child, my dream job was to be a kung fu movie star like Bruce Lee. I wanted to be a footballer like Brazil’s Ronaldo, or a wrestler like The Rock. But my true passion has always been music.
I started writing songs at age 13, inspired by Tupac Shakur (2pac). My first song was about my mother, right after my family got evicted from our home. I kept on writing songs and chose to do music for GCSE the following year. I then went on to study music at college and later at University.
I first came to Drive Forward in 2013. I had just finished my degree in Urban and Electronic Music and was looking for a job or a placement within the industry that would allow me to improve my skills and eventually move into production. It all proved to be a bit more complicated than I had thought. Like many young graduates, I would even say most of them, I thought that just because I had a degree, I would easily find my dream job. But I soon realised, that I needed to take a step back and get some hands-on work experience first.
I started working in a bar and then got a job at Iceland. Of course, I kept working on my music on the side and also went along to a session at Déjà Vu Radio, where young people recorded a soundtrack for Drive Forward.
Last year I decided that it was time to change jobs. As I’m interested in nutrition, healthy eating, and lifestyle, Drive Forward arranged a trial shift at Crussh Foods. At the same time, Martha and Miranda were looking for someone to support Drive Forward’s outreach work. They wanted someone who had experience working with young people, someone speaking ‘their’ language and able to easily connect with them. Knowing about my background, including my experience in mentoring vulnerable youth, I was offered a 1 day a week paid placement at Drive Forward. From there I quickly became Drive Forward’s new Outreach Coordinator, responsible for linking with care leavers, professionals, and care leaver services across London.
The combination of being a care leaver and a former ‘service user’, gives me a unique insight as a member of staff at Drive Forward. I guess this shared experience allows me to connect to the young people on a deeper level. Whilst we’ve all made our own personal experiences, I hope that my own background enables me to understand their mentality and attitudes towards work, education, and life in general.
My goal for the future is, that all Looked After Children and Care Leavers are made aware of Drive Forward and the services we offer as soon as they turn 16. They need to think about what they enjoy doing in order to be able to see the different choices available to them. Drive Forward can help them do that!