I try not to be, but sometimes I can be judgmental. This may be one of those times.
Whenever I hear or see a young person claiming they are in too deep in the criminal world they can’t get out of it, I roll my eyes in frustration and think ‘of course you can if you really tried. It may be the most difficult thing you will do, but it’s possible.’ I immediately feel guilty because I have never been in that position and cannot possibly understand it’s effects. I now however have an aid to my argument and it comes in the form of Jamal Rahman. Jamal proves you can turn your life around with a little bit of help and will power.
Born in Tooting, at 14 Jamal’s parents divorced and led Rahman on a downward spiral of school exclusions, no GCSE’s and was left homeless after his mum moved to Barbados. It’s not surprising he became a career criminal. At 27 Jamal’s charge sheet was three pages long (mainly for burglary) and had been sentenced seven times with five years in prisons all over London including Wormwood Scrubs, Brixton and Lambeth.
Leaving prison at 29
“something inside me clicked — I decided I was worth more than this and would never do crime again.”
But going legit was hard as Jamal had no qualifications and two children to support. Jamal had a reputation as able to handle himself so he trained and started his own security company. Now Rahman is 49- years- old and iconic in the security sector. Jamal has looked after Beyoncé, James Brown and even the Saudi Royal Family!
Six years ago he set up Norwood Community Group in Lambeth from nothing. Today NCG has programmed which help hundreds of fallen young adults like sports, courses and real routes to employment now worth over £40,000. With investment from the Evening Standards Dispossessed Lottery fund, Jamal recently started a ‘Back to Work’ programme where he has helped 31 people train and get jobs as security guards with options to go into other areas of security.
Despite his past, Jamal is an inspiration to those who say they can’t or don’t know how to stay on the right path. I am not saying if Jamal can do it, so can everybody else. My point is that it is possible. Perhaps it is Stanley Cohen’s 1972 Deviancy Amplification spiral where people are seen as deviant are made to feel they are not better and continue being deviant that is not encouraging young people to be confident and feel they are worth something.
The economic downturn can only lead to more negative mindsets because it instills the idea there literally is no get out of jail free card. It is easy for me to say this from the comfort <saatrong>of my warm desk but it’s so disheartening when young people don’t feel they can go through life on the right side of the law.
Lets hope others follow his path. I have a lot of respect for him, despite his past.
Over and Out!