Daniel, 19, left care at 18 and moved into Depaul UK accommodation. With the help of his Progression Coach, he was put in contact with a mentor – a professional in finance – and successfully applied for an accounting course. Continuing his studies he plans to become an Investment Banker and inspire other young black people to pursue their dreams.
“I was never homeless. I was put into care when I was 16 and came to Depaul UK when I turned 18. It was alright [in care]. Lucky enough for me I was put into a decent care home. I was treated alright. Things are good with my parents. I get to see them, depends what I’m doing. Sometimes my week is too busy to see them.
“While I was in care, I was still going to school. That first year was tough for me. I couldn’t concentrate and I ended up dropping out. I went into work because I’m a hands-on kind of person. I was working in administration, in a hotel and a primary school. It showed me good customer service, patience, politeness, courtesy. I didn’t like all the standing up though, man (laughs). The primary school, I enjoyed it a lot. Used to kick ball with the little kids at lunchtime and that. I was going through some mental health things at that time, though, so I prioritised my mental health and resigned.
“How did I manage my mental health? Speaking up, man. Men, in general, hide too many things, don’t want to share anything, don’t want to cry. I went into something called CAMHS [Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services]. They give you a person you can speak to. I got a guy from America, we were cool. We used to go out to eat and I could share what was on my mind. I got to the point where it was manageable. From there, I was good. Now, I trust in God, so I have different coping mechanisms. Nothing’s too big for him.
“When I arrived at Depaul UK, I started working with my Progression Coach. They helped me get into an accounting course and they got me a financial mentor who works in a bank. Shout out, David. He showed me different things, we’d talk about money. I’ve always wanted to know about money, behind the scenes, know how it works. He would take me out to some prestigious places. It made me see life differently, that some things are possible, get it?
“People were looking at me weird because I’m a dark-skinned guy coming into a place where it’s predominantly white men and women. I was playing “count the black person”. There was only like four or five out of like hundreds. It upset me, but it gave me a drive. This has to change. People who have grown up in environments like me, who dress like me, talk like me, will be able to see that just because you are a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t get to a certain place. I’ll be able to influence and motivate a lot of people who have come from the same place as me.
“I’m going to continue with accounting, get qualified, move on to investment banking. Then the game starts, man.”