Thirty-five-year-old Peckham man Yusuf Kamara has told the News how a career in construction has got him back on his feet after returning from jail.
After three years in HM Prison Durham for a drug offence, he was thrown a life-line in 2013 by Lendlease’s non-profit organisation Be Onsite.
The former Heygate resident is now a lift operator subcontracted to work at the Elephant Park development in Heygate Street, and says he is the one “happy and laughing”.
“In prison I had a lot of time to think,” said Yusuf, who travelled to London from Sierra Leone as a child.
“The time after prison was difficult. Coming out of it and suddenly going to work at 8am every day was a hard transition. But once you set your mind to something you can change your life.
“That’s what I tell my friends who are in prison now. These are guys who started on the street like me. When I see my old boys I grew up with I tell them the hood life is a myth.
“Now I’m here I’ve got money and new friends from work. I’m reaping the rewards. I’m the man of the house looking after my mum and brothers and sisters. I’ve gained a trade, learnt new skills, and am now being asked to help train new recruits.
“I see this new life building this estate and helping my old friends to train here after getting out of jail as my way of giving back.
“Anyone can change their life. I would say, to anyone reading this, the street life is a myth.”