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You’ve opened our stories scrapbook where you can meet some of the inspirational people we’ve worked with along the way. No two people are the same, so neither are two scrapbook pages...

An afternoon with "Dreamer" - music maestro at Mac UK

Samuel
It’s impossible to sum up Silvino in one sentence. At the age of 26, Fight for Peace’s boxing coach cum youth councillor has lived a life that most of us could only imagine.

I used to live in Switzerland. I went from Angola to Portugal, then to Italy, Switzerland, and then the UK. I lived in Switzerland for four years, and I was actually the best in my year at school at skiing, which is a bit weird.

I moved around from country to country with my auntie, then my Mum. My brothers and me were split up all over different countries.

My school was pretty bad, that’s an understatement to be honest. I was the guy who couldn’t speak English but was getting into a lot of trouble. I felt like I had a point to prove, I kept getting into fights and my brother said he wouldn’t defend me anymore, I was going to have to learn how to fight for myself. That’s the way it is, you either fight or you get targeted.

I was never the type to pick on people, but there were times when there was a slight argument, something that could be just finished there. I ended up not wanting it to finish there, and I’d want to fight.

When I was in school, we used to sell weed. Just selling it now and again, we used to get a bag from local guys and we’d make a minor profit, just to earn extra cash. From there, we went to robberies, we used to go and jump on buses from school or even on the way to school, and we used to rob people on the bus. Eventually, we thought, “okay, robbing people on the bus is not something that we wanna do”, so we had to figure out something else.

In the area we lived, there is literally nothing else to do. There is a park, but there are no youth clubs, nothing. We had nothing else to do, so we had to find a way to entertain ourselves. That was one way to do something constructive. From then we went on to buying bigger drugs and selling them on, and we ended up saving enough to separate from the big dealers and sell by ourselves. Eventually, we got very good at doing what we were doing.

In the area we lived, there is literally nothing else to do. There is a park, but there are no youth clubs, nothing. We had nothing else to do, so we had to find a way to entertain ourselves. That was one way to do something constructive. From then we went on to buying bigger drugs and selling them on, and we ended up saving enough to separate from the big dealers and sell by ourselves. Eventually, we got very good at doing what we were doing.

Eventually you start getting into problems with other people, some people don’t like what you’re doing and some people just don’t like you doing well.

You get into altercations, then it becomes a beating, ‘til a beating becomes someone picking up a brick and hitting you with it, someone comes back with a baseball bat, a knife, and next time you’re shooting each other.

It just progressed and got worse. At that time, I was coming in and out of prison, then I got nicked for firearms, and they gave me a long sentence.

I kept fighting when I was in there, and they kept transferring me to prisons further and further away. In the end they realised that they were partly in the wrong. They knew my Mum’s situation, and for them to transfer me so far away, I think anyone would have reacted the way I did. I was just trying to fight everyone, any time they let me out of my cell, I’d just get after everyone. From then on I behaved myself.

Eventually I realised it was getting to the point where it was a bit stupid, you’re just proving that you’re a bit of an idiot.

I had to grow through that, and it made a big difference being in open condition, and I could visit my Mum. When I was in prison, my sister was one year old, so she really didn’t know what I looked like.

I went to the house and went to hug her, and she ran behind my Mum and hid. She was scared, she didn’t know who I was and she didn’t want come close to me. I was ashamed, and that hurt, I’m not gonna lie, that really hurt.

My little sister didn’t even know who I was. I spend a lot of time with her now, she’s 6.

The same day I met my sister, I went to see my Mum and no one was in, so I went to train at the local gym. I met a guy there who told me about Fight for Peace and that it was a good place to train.

He told me “I know you’re stronger than me, but I’m much fitter than you”. He was challenging me, so I came down the next time. My fitness wasn’t as good as I thought it was. So I kept coming, and I haven’t left since.

Eventually they asked me to be in the youth council, and I passed my fitness instructor level 2 and 3 qualification. I even passed my Level 3 personal trainer on Monday, so I’m now a fully qualified PT. All that in the space of less than 18 months. I got my boxing award, suspension training, core stability, boxing tutorship, pad work, kettle bells, high intensity training.

I just got lucky; I met someone in the gym at the right time. If it wasn’t for that, I might not be here. If my Mum was in on my release day, I wouldn’t have gone to the gym.

Fight for Peace gives young people control of their own destiny. It gives them the choice, nobody will force you to do anything, and you have to want to do it yourself. We will not spoon-feed you, or force you to do anything; you need to want to do it.

I think you have to want to do good first and foremost. With me, it wasn’t that I wanted to do bad, I didn’t think, “I’m going to go here to do things to hurt people”; I just thought that I had to do what I had to do. I didn’t feel bad about it, and I didn’t feel good about it, I didn’t really know better, it was just normal.

You see bad people in good situations, so they don’t need to do bad, they have money; they don’t have to do those things. They’d probably enjoy doing bad things more than most people, but they don’t have to. That’s just the way I feel.

Read Maggie's Story Next »
  • £1,632,751 invested in social organisations through 48 financial grants

  • £195,078 donated to our partners through fundraising

  • 1,803 Days of expertise invested in our partners

  • 41 Partner
    Organisations
    supported through funding, expertise and connections

    23
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  • 22,907 Young
    Lives
    improved as a result of our completed projects

  • 59 Events convened or hosted


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