Smashing the system: Angela's story With so many inspirational stories, the word ‘inspiration’ can seem a little, well, trite when used in abundance. We have students from all walks of life. Many have faced adversity; in the classroom, in their personal lives or in their professional lives. One thing that our students all have in common is that they are determined. They have grit and a steely determination not just to improve their lives, but the lives of others around them. When I met with Angela, I was struck by her personality and her determination. A tiny chatterbox, that flits from one conversation to another as she’s collecting her thoughts, telling you her plans and what she’s doing in the present. Angela is a tour de force. She is kind, intelligent, articulate. Her brain works at 100 miles per hour, as she talks feverishly about her charity work, her pursuit for education and her want to make Birmingham, if not the UK, a better place for our homeless (or street lovelies, as Angela calls her service users). Angela has been with Fircroft College for nearly three years. Her goal, as we ask all our students to have goals in mind, was to become self-employed. Angela has achieved this, as well as emerging and evolving herself. Angela is due to finish her studies with Fircroft College, and while we’re sad to see her go, what we’re sure she will achieve next will be nothing short of incredible. ‘Two and a half years ago, I started an outreach group for the cities homeless, or road lovelies as I prefer to call them. Our group is a direct action, human to human group, that tries to lessen the burden of those who are outdoors. We have conversations with those who are sleeping rough, we bring them dry, clean socks, we try to get everyone indoors, we aim to have a physical connection with all of those that use our service. We want to see every life fulfilled (which is the acronym and the name of my group - SELF - See Every Life Fulfilled). This work is completely and utterly self-funded. It has its challenges, without a doubt. A lot of the people I work with are in survival mode. My job is to be an advocate of our cities homeless. I want to protect, defend and befriend our road lovelies to ensure that they are safe and fed. So, to complement my work in the city, I started a counseling course, as this fits in with the needs of the people that use my service. More than that, this course has been perfect for my own self-development and for making me a better person. I’ve been at Fircroft for three years now. I’ve done around 9 courses, all of which feed into my work. I’ve done bid writing, advocacy and mentoring. The thing I love about Fircroft is that everyone is here because they care. Gaynor, Angela, Roanne, Mandy. They are so supportive. The feedback that they have given me is incredible. There are some good hearts and souls in the building. The feeling of studying here is one of calm. It’s chilled, relaxed and beautiful space. I’m not a calm person and not many places bring that sense of peace, but this place does. In short, it’s a great experience. My aunt, Ellen Crossey, worked her some years ago, so I feel that I have a strong connection to the place. I’m taking my qualifications and using them in a real-world context. My studies have helped me to help others. I’ve talked people out of suicide and helped them in any way that I can. Alongside my studies, I run a breakfast club for my road lovelies, as well as running meals on wheels service, whereby I take my trolley through the city and feed everyone that needs a meal. More and more, I’m seeing families and children who are hungry. So, they get fed too. After all, I need to see every life fulfilled. The grandkids come with me and help too. It’s important that they are involved and see the extent of the problem, and well as being part of the solution in whatever that they can. My aim is to build real, long-lasting relationships not just supply food. I’ve also been instrumental in getting the wheels in motion for the memorials installed in Birmingham City Centre for our road lovelies that are no longer with us. Liam Byrne MP has even been a part of it, and has been part of my Facebook Live broadcasts! No more deaths is something that I am striving for. Fircroft has helped me keep my own issues at bay. My focus now is on others. I have been depressed, and suicidal. Many factors stopped this. But, I stopped, prayed and wanted to find my purpose. I have definitely found that with my work. I guess you could say that I don’t obey the rules! That said, I am a fan of old school manners. I do talks in schools called ‘Mad about Manners’ teaching kids about traditional values. To me, respect is everything. Why would you not want to be respectful and help people? I live by the motto ‘stay small, stay focussed, stay humble, stay true’. That’s all that you can do.’ About SELF (See Every Life Fulfilled) SELF is a grassroots, guest inspired organisation that operates for, by and with the people they aim to serve and dedicated to putting the care back into caring. SELF aims to empower people so that they can begin to enable themselves. They will be creating positive actions by promotion healthy back-to-basics direction action with the work that they do. The idea behind our thinking is to build a network/team of people with a variety of skills and resources, who will come together to assist People to achieve their future goals and regain their sense of wellbeing. Loosely based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, this would be achieved through Advocacy, Mentoring, Counselling, and Life coaching as well as seeing to their immediate physical needs, recognised at first contact. It is not about reinventing the Wheel, merely to create opportunities to make REAL and POSITIVE changes in People's lives through active care, support and Person-centered progression. SELF wants to help to restore the fractures in People's lives by being that healing source and that guiding hand to a more positive and safe future. If you'd like to share your success stories with us, you can do by getting in touch with us via email [email protected] or clicking the link here.