Darian is one of thousands of young people who were excluded from school. Statistically, his life should have followed a devastating path. Thankfully, he gained a place at TLG and five years on he's living a life filled with hope.
"I wasn’t someone that loved school. I was rude and I didn’t listen to teachers. I just did my own thing. I guess I was angry really and I found it really hard to trust adults. I used to always think that they were just telling me to do things to exploit their authority not because the school rules were there to keep me safe and look after me. My schoolwork struggled as a result. I’d always get up before I’d finished my work and I fell behind.
It reached a point where I got taken out of school. I don’t really remember exactly how it happened but I remember feeling hopeless. I felt like I’d blown it. I felt like my life was over.
I think what I really needed was someone to talk to. I needed someone to listen and understand me. Things were tough at home and there were always arguments. I guess I needed somewhere calm as the rest of my life was a storm.
I was given a place at the TLG Education Centre in West London. It was really small and at first I thought it was a bit intense. But it didn’t take me long to grow to like it. It was different to normal school. They had spaces to chill out and they gave me time to talk about how I was feeling.
They gave me lots of encouragement. I was so used to just hearing negatives about how bad I was. But at TLG, even when I’d had a really bad day, they’d always find something that I’d done well and something I could go home proud of.
Hannah, one of the staff members at TLG, made the biggest impact on me. She’s what I’d call a true teacher. I owe everything to her because she showed me what I could achieve. She wouldn’t give up on me and she helped me to believe in myself, even when I thought I couldn’t do something.
There was something different about the teachers at TLG. They weren’t just doing it for a job. They really cared. Even just knowing that they were praying for us was nice. I knew that when they said they would pray, they actually would!
TLG gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity. We went on a trip to Ghana to volunteer in some projects there. It was life-changing for me. It showed me that I could do something different with my life and it made me realise how much I have to be thankful for. It made me want to use what I had to help other people.
If it weren’t for TLG, my future would look totally different. The teachers helped me get into Richmond College. The day I got kicked out of school, I never thought I’d get into college! From there I joined the Chickenshed Theatre Company in North London, where I am now. I’m doing a degree in inclusive performing arts. We create theatre with young people of all abilities and backgrounds. We’re currently touring a show called ‘Crime of the Century’ around schools and Young Offenders Institutes that helps young people to understand the dangers of gang violence and knife crime.
It means so much to me that I’m able to make a difference in the lives of young people. I’m going to use my experiences of struggling in school to help them. I’m going to give them hope just like TLG gave me hope.”