Redbridge care worker’s journey from prison to meeting Prince Charles

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 March 2017

Umar Saeed has been nominated for a Prince's Trust young ambassador award. Picture: Sean Malyon

Umar Saeed has been nominated for a Prince's Trust young ambassador award. Picture: Sean Malyon

Sean Malyon 2016

Umar Saeed is only 27 and has already been to jail, become a care worker, received a standing ovation from Thierry Henry and met Prince Charles.

Umar Saeed in the street where he grew up in East Ham. Picture: Sean Malyon Umar Saeed in the street where he grew up in East Ham. Picture: Sean Malyon

Umar, Chadwell Heath, will attend the The Prince’s Trust & TK Maxx Celebrate Success Awards, at the Palladium, on Wednesday, where he is nominated for the young ambassador of the year award.

He has already won the regional equivalent and, despite the many famous faces he has met in the past few years, is looking forward to meeting the event’s Geordie co-hosts Ant and Dec.

The awards recognise disadvantaged young people who have overcome personal hardships and Umar’s story reflects his struggles growing up in poverty in Moss Side, Manchester, and later east London.

“Growing up, my parents were addicts, my dad was a part of the Hell’s Angels gangs in Moss Side. Things got bad, to the point we had to flee from Manchester and had to move to London.

“I grew up pretty fast. Many times I saw my parents arrested, Swat teams would bust down my door and there were problems with addicts coming to the house saying they [his parents] owed them money.”

As he grew older Umar saw the local drug dealers were making a lot of money and soon found himself involved in importing and exporting drugs.

However the police soon caught up with him and he ended up behind bars.

After his release he was introduced to The Prince’s Trust by his probation officer and took some courses to gain qualifications.

“I did a few courses with the trust and then went to one of their Get A Job days and I got a job as a carer – I was really surprised.

“I was really good at it, I would get on with people and identify their problems.

“Now I’m at a different company and on a full time contract and I aspire to be a social worker working with people with drug problems because I know what it’s like in that environment.”

After hearing his story the trust invited Umar to speak at its 40th anniversary event, hosted by Jon Snow.

Prince Charles has acknowledged that the charity exists to support people like Umar.

At another event run by the trust Umar, an Arsenal fan, performed a play with other young people about their experiences and was given a raucous applause led by his hero Thierry Henry.

“When I finished the play Henry stood up and gave us a standing ovation. Me and my brother once went to the Emirates just to see him.”

Umar will finish his role as an ambassador later this year and is extremely grateful for the experiences and support he’s received and is looking forward to the future.

He said: “No amount of money can replace the things the Prince’s Trust has helped me achieve.

“I feel so proud that I’m actually doing good.

“I’ve always had a conscience under the bad things I did, I’m happy my parents and siblings can be proud of me.”

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