Feature: Sheffield cause changing lives away from crime

The In2Change team
The In2Change team
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Youth crime is an ongoing problem in Sheffield, with many young people vulnerable to or involved in crime. Local charitable organisation In2Change is determined for that to change.

In2Change was set up by director Brian Wreakes, who has over 15 years of experience working in the prison system.

Hanif Mohammed turned his life around after being convicted of manslaughter

Hanif Mohammed turned his life around after being convicted of manslaughter

The project was set up to help young people make better decisions, achieve positive ambitions and to move away from criminal activity.

What is truly different about In2Change is that all intervention programmes are ran by ex-offenders and serving prisoners.

Hanif Mohammed has been working at In2Change for over five years as a projects manager.

After being convicted of manslaughter and serving a lengthy sentence at Marshgate Prison, he became determined to turn his life around and give something back.

I used to think that I was worthless so I would just be a street guy

Hanif Mohammed

He now delivers specialist intervention programmes which are made more impactful by his past experiences and background.

Hanif, aged 33, said: “Often people think there was something massive in-between that changed my life.

“It wasn’t really, it was just the opportunity came at the right time and my attitude had changed massively too. As a prisoner I thought, this is my life now.

“So I said, ‘Right Hanif, what are you going to do now?’”

Students in the In2Change gym

Students in the In2Change gym

“I knew that by the time I got out that I wouldn’t be allowed back home and that I would be right where I started except that I would have a massive conviction ruling over me.

“So I decided to educate myself as I didn’t have any formal qualifications and I managed to rack up quite a lot of qualifications.

“It was down to a woman from the Independent Monitoring Board that came into the prison that I turned my life around.

“ She sat me down and told me that I was a remarkable young man and that I had a good heart and I looked at her and I just started crying.

Hanif with students in the In2Change classroom

Hanif with students in the In2Change classroom

“At the time I was carrying this massive burden, the guilt of my crime and I didn't think I could go on to do what I am doing now. She told me to try giving back and inspired me to do it.”

Hanif added: “The opportunity came up when I met Brian. Brian advised me to come and volunteer at In2Change and the rest is history and it has really taken off since.

“Before that I had never thought I had any talent or skills or any form of potential. I used to think that I was worthless so I would just be a street guy.

“Now I think I’m blessed. Now the best thing is when kids come up to me that have been on the course that come back a year later to thank you, they tell me that I have changed their lives.

“One girl sticks in my head, she had a hard home life, she was dyslexic and she was living in a bad area. I worked with her on positivity and career aspirations and she came in one day and told me she’s at Sheffield College.”

In2Change’s work includes running a vocational skills programme which most recently resulted in 27 of 29 students from local schools on the course achieving qualifications. The In2Change team also delivers presentations in schools, one-to-one mentoring and have a gym, practice beauty salon and classroom at their centre for students to use.

In2Change are making an exciting move to new premises, the Rutland Hall on Hicks Street which team members are currently refurbishing.

Recent funding from local charity for charities, the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, has enabled the project to continue their intervention work whilst they complete this big renovation project.

The foundation is a long term supporter of In2Change and works to help local community organisations work across the region with grant awards.

“The new centre will be much bigger which means we can provide so much more support to more young people”, added Hanif.

“The hall needs a lot of work as it has been squatted in and vandalised over the years but we are doing our best to get it ready for the move.

“We need to keep doing more and being better for the sake of the kids we work with.

“Sometimes you want to take these kids home and adopt them but then you would have a house full wouldn’t you!

“ So you do your best for them, get them back on their feet.

“That is so satisfying for us all at In2Change.”

To support In2Change with the rennovation of its new centre call 0114 2536077 or visit In2Change

FACTFILE:

To find out more about In2Change go to In2Change

The community foundation is currently celebratings its 30th year of supporting charities and organisations in South Yorkshire. There is a special fund which has been set up for the anniversary. To get involved with the project visit South Yorkshire Community Foundation To see if you can apply for grant funding from South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) please go to South yorkshire Community Foundation Apply