The Salmon Youth Centre In Bermondsey

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Registered address
43 Old Jamaica Road,
SE16 4TE

0207 237 3788

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Case study: Gabriel


“My name is Gabriel Kingston and I live in Bermondsey. I was born in Nigeria and moved to England when I was six months old. I have three brothers and one sister! I have a passion for sports; football in particular. I like hanging out around the Thames. From there you have got such a nice view of London!

Growing up in Bermondsey has not always been easy. About three years ago I started using drugs. I needed something to do and wanted to be part of the group. Drugs had a big influence on my life. I often felt anxious, hungry and became more and more tired. I was no longer good at sport and lost all my energy.

Two years ago, I started going to the Salmon Youth Centre. A friend from college took me there. I was really impressed with the sports hall and enjoyed playing football. Often, I was hanging around the pool table. I was very quiet. They used to call me ‘The Pool Boy’. But after clubs, I still went back to my mates and kept on using drugs.

One day I smoked too much. My whole body started shaking and my heart was beating very fast. I was on the street and knocked on doors to ask for help. I felt very sick. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from my mistake. The next day it happened again. I used drugs and collapsed in the middle of a shopping centre. I thought I was going to die, but woke up in hospital. There were wires all over my body.

This incident changed everything. I asked myself: am I going to be like this for the rest of my life? I decided to change. I went back to church, started to attend a Bible study group and got baptized later that year. I also started going to Salmon more often. I became a volunteer, went on residentials and made a lot of new friends. I never smoked or used drugs again.

I am now a gap year student at Salmon. Since being here, I have become much more confident and open. I have discovered I can really do and achieve a lot. I no longer keep my problems to myself. I express myself and let people know what is on my mind. I would like to say thank you to all the staff that have helped me and believed in me! The change that took place in my life is amazing. I didn’t do it out of my own strength. God definitely helped me. 

Football is still my passion. I believe I can become a professional footballer or sports coach. Of course, I will have to train a lot and it will cost me a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But I want to give the right example. I want to tell all young people: you have to stand up and do something with your life! And if you are stuck, you have to ask for help. I would like to tell all my mates: it is not too late to change your life. If I can do it, you can do it. I will send them this newsletter and keep on encouraging them. Maybe my story will inspire them.

‘Impossible is nothing’ are the words that inspire my life. It is an Adidas slogan, but I keep on repeating it to myself. In one of Adidas’ adverts, footballer Lionel Messi tells about his life: how he grew up as a little boy and now he is on the big stage. Maybe one day it will be my story. No, I am not giving up. I believe I can make it. I don’t have any doubts anymore.”

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