Freddy joined Re:Green in October 2021 through the Re:Green Access Fund. After becoming homeless, he spent time living on the streets before finding support through The Amber Foundation. Through the Re:Green Access Fund, Freddy joined a Re:Green programme, where he had the opportunity to join a trek and take part in nature conservation work in Scotland’s Western Highlands. Through this programme, he was able to learn new skills and has been inspired to strive for a leadership position in the army. He shares his story.
I moved to the UK over a year ago. I lived in France and was working for a bit, but then COVID hit and I lost my job. I decided to come to the UK to join the Armed Forces. At the time I was living with my grandparents, but when they moved I couldn’t go with them, and I became homeless.
Being homeless, I saw the best and the worst in people. There’s a lot of violence on the streets.
I saw a couple of stabbings, lots of pub fights. I had a couple of people hassling me for no reason, probably thinking I was homeless because I couldn’t hold down a job - very old ideas about homelessness. And I was confronted by that. I’ve seen some people pee on homeless people just for the fun of it, but it’s never happened to me fortunately. I was lucky on that front.
It’s very easy to feel abandoned because no one is helping you and it’s extremely frustrating. And the more you’re trying to fight, the more barriers come up. And you think: when is this going to stop? But it has built my resilience quite a lot.
I first heard about Re:Green through the Amber Foundation which is where I live. It’s a homeless charity that helps young people.
Through the Re:Green Access Fund, Raleigh International offered a number of fully-funded Re:Green places to residents of the Amber Foundation to make the programme accessible to people from all backgrounds.
I hadn’t heard of Raleigh before coming on Re:Green. When I looked it up and found out more about it, the core values of Raleigh and the conservation work on Re:Green really interested me. It sounded like a good opportunity to learn something new and different, and to actively help out.
My time on Re:Green began with an 11-day trek across the Western Highlands.
Before this, I hadn’t done anything as physically demanding. I had to move a lot when I was homeless, which was quite physical as I was carrying my whole life with me. I’ve learned quite a lot about myself from being on Raleigh. Until I did the trek, I doubted myself a lot, I thought it was going to be difficult. But I learnt that I was capable.
I also learnt that I’m a good leader. On trek, you take turns to be day leader. It’s pretty indescribable, that feeling at the end of the day when everyone’s achieved something and you had a role to play in that. I enjoyed that the most. When I start the Army I will start low in the ranks, but I’m confident that I want to reach a full leadership position at some point. That wouldn’t have happened without Raleigh.
It’s been an opportunity to grow as a person in ways that you wouldn’t think possible.
It makes you more aware of the world that you live in. I remember coming back from the mountain trek and looking around; I thought about how sad it is how man changes the world so easily. So it’s important to go back to your roots, to the proper wild, and experience it. Because unfortunately if we don’t do anything now, it’s going to be impossible to do that in the future.
I’d like to get involved in some local environmental projects. The Army has an adventurous training programme which takes you out to do conservation work in remote areas. I hope to get involved with that to do something to help. To at least keep what we have, and try and make the world a little bit better.
Without the Access Fund, I wouldn’t have been able to get involved with Raleigh as I don’t have the means to pay for it.
Even if I had a small job, I still wouldn’t have been able to do it without the financial help. I’ve been very lucky with Raleigh International and the Amber Foundation, that they have worked together to give me and others the opportunity to get out into nature. So this Access Fund is extremely important and is something I’m very grateful for. I hope that I can somehow repay someday, perhaps by volunteering again as a Volunteer Manager in the future.
It’s been brilliant being part of such a diverse group, because we’re all interacting together and working well despite our differences. And that makes a massive difference.
If I had to describe my Raleigh experience in three words, they would be: intense, breath-taking and amazing.