A Connect to Communities Story

Every year the Violence Reduction Unit provides an opportunity for young men between 18 and 28 involved in or at risk of violence to work full time with the army at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Those who are nominated have to attend 4 training days, after which 6 are selected. Two years ago, our service Connect to Community, nominated 2 young men – *Tom and *Fred.

Tom got the opportunity for work just before the training days started, and accepted it. Sadly, he only lasted 2 weeks before returning to prison.  Fred was discounted because of his complicated medical needs.

Last year we nominated *Keith. He impressed the recruitment team and was the outstanding candidate on the 1st three assessment days. Sadly on the fourth day he showed up with signs of having taken a substance and was asked to leave. Thankfully Keith responded to this disappointment well, accepted an offer to go into rehab, and is about to complete 12 months clean and sober.

This year we nominated 3 boys – Tom (again) *Fergus and *Mike. After the 4 week selection process, all 3 boys have been taken onto the 6 man team and joined up with the army on Sunday in Edinburgh.

Tom (age 22) said this is the first time he has been successful at anything in his life. He is so delighted at achieving this.

I first met Dave from Connect to Community 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 his 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. It’s been the best experience of my life!

Fergus (age 28) had served 12 years in prison up until last year. He was just beginning to lose heart with the difficulties he has encountered after his release and losing his discipline – hopefully this will bring back the discipline he needs to progress from here.

Mike (age 21) is very young emotionally, having been traumatised in childhood and then adopted. He rarely is able to stick at anything. He has been attending counselling for some months now, and seems to have found this helpful and is now enjoying being a popular member of this group.

It has been great to see the boys stick at the selection process, and have their application and effort rewarded with this success.


*The names of these individuals have been changed to protect their identities.