Paul, a young man in from Coatbridge, has just finished one of his busiest Augusts to date after having performed in the world famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

But this was an extra special performance for Paul, as he was one of 4 men put forward for the highly competitive Tattoo Apprenticeship – a once in a lifetime opportunity for individuals to live in the Edinburgh barracks and undergo specialist training for the Military Tattoo held in Scotland’s capitol every August. Paul was initially asked to help as a member of the stage crew; however, he later became one of the Jacobites in the production.

This was by far the best experience of my life. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to be a part of one of the most famous events in all of Scotland.

Paul, along with a group of other guys, was put forward for the apprenticeship by Connect to Community (C2C), a programme facilitated by Bethany Christian Trust which works with ex-offenders and the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), the only police force in the world to adopt a public health approach to violence. Comprising a mixture of researchers, police officers , civilian staff and former offenders who have turned their lives around and are now seeking to help others do the same; the VRU team have been working with Paul to help rehabilitate him back into society after having been in and out of prison. After giving up alcohol and drugs with the help of Dave McAdam from Bethany’s C2C’s services, Paul was encouraged to apply to the apprenticeship programme and was accepted this past summer.

I first met Dave back when I was in prison. He gave me hope that my life wasn’t over, that I could get back on track. With the help of VRU and with Dave’s support, I was able to become sober by the time I left prison. He encouraged me to apply to the Tattoo Apprenticeship. I’m so glad I did.

Today Paul is in the process of interviewing with a food truck company near Glasgow. As part of the rehabilitation programme, Paul will be receiving support and guidance from VRU for the next 18 months who will give Paul the tools he needs to gain meaningful employment and get his life back on track. He also remains in close contact with Dave from C2C, who Paul attributes a large part of his success to.

If it wasn’t for the Connect to Community team, I wouldn’t be where I am today.