My official name is now Ojo, but I have over the last 3 years been also known as Michael and Segun Ojo, just to keep things interesting. I came to England from Nigeria at the age of 9 and lived with family members in Manchester. I think that its best to draw a veil over my early years. It’s sufficient to say it was not a good time in my life and I became known to the Police and Social Services.
I was taken into care at the age of 14 and ‘worked’ my way through a number of care homes. I never really felt that I had found my place in the world. Then about 3 years ago I moved into a ubu enabled support. At the time I was living on benefits, I had been given probation and I was doing some work cash in hand. It was not ideal. My UK residential status was under review by the Home Office. At first things looked bad.
But ubu didn’t give up on me. Team members enabled me to slowly build up my skills and my confidence at college. I took a catering course, and then transferred into building and bricklaying course. At least now I can make a lovely slab cake!
Things were still not right for me, even though I was getting support from ubu team members. At the end of 2014 my probation order was finally finished. I applied again for my residency status to be resolved by the Home Office and was given approval to stay permanently in the UK. This was the turning-point for me and when things started to get much better in my life.
With ubu enabling support I started to trawl through the local papers and job websites for possible jobs that might suit my skills. An agency asked me to attend an interview which I needed a bit of support from ubu team members with. This was one of the first big achievements in my life. I got through the interview and was offered a number of catering porter jobs in Dunham Massey, Chester Race Course and Quarry Bank Mill.
Suddenly I had gone from getting occasional work at a car wash for cash in hand and being bored most of the time, to a full time role working in a wide variety of places and feeling absolutely shattered and exhausted most of the time. My benefits were stopped because I was earning regular cash. At first I had some problems balancing my finances when bills had to be paid. I was paid for the work I was doing via the agency, completing time sheets were a new challenge for me. But I got the hang of what to do, asking advice when I needed it from my ubu enabling team. When I realised how much the agency were taking as fees from my wage I realised that it was time to look for a more permanent, full time job.
With a little supportive encouragement from ubu I got a job as a kitchen porter in a Manchester restaurant. This was for a basic 40 hours per week. It proved to be a great start. I travel independently to and from work, often not getting home until after midnight. Now I am making enough money to begin to clear my debts and buy small luxury items, like my TV.
I have decided that now is the time to start working towards moving on to live in my own home. I want to be able to live my life independently in the future, without enabling support. I have recently registered on the Local Authority housing list and I’m starting to look for my own flat in Manchester.
In the time that I’ve been supported to live with greater independence by ubu, I have developed skills and ways of behaving that mean I feel that I can tackle most things with very little support. I feel I have succeeded in growing and changing into the person I should be. Instead of worrying what might happen to me next I am looking forward to the changes that the future will bring.