Captivating, tragic, shocking and inspirational . . . Samoon Saleem shares his amazing story with TCAT studentsPublished: July 15, 2016
Life didn’t start well for Samoon Saleem. By the age of 14, he was taking drugs on a daily basis, committing crime, and caving in to pressure to be seen as ‘one of the gang’ by his Telford-based peers.
It ended up costing him his liberty, and he served six months in a juvenile detention centre.
He couldn’t kick his drug-taking habit when he was released, and in 1998 – after a drunken argument with his girlfriend – Samoon took tablets, got behind the wheel of a car, and had a massive crash. It left him fighting for his life in a coma for two months, with serious brain damage.
Slowly but surely, Samoon has been battling to turn his life around ever since.
Now aged 39 and living in Hadley, he’s been working on improving his literacy and functional skills at Telford College of Arts and Technology.
And he is now using his experiences as a force for good – teaching the current generation of teenagers at TCAT how not to live their lives.
Samoon, who was raised in Madeley and also lived in Oswestry for a while, says: “When I was 14, I was smoking, starting drugs, and involved with crime. I didn’t stop to consider the consequences of my actions.
When I had my crash at new year in 1998, I wished I had died.
Even now, 18 years on, he has to have operations to help ease his restricted movement.
But I had help from hundreds of people, and I’m now trying to make sure other people don’t make the same mistakes as I did, by helping to deliver awareness courses at TCAT about the dangers of drugs.
TCAT is quite simply the most supportive college, and always helps with my ambitions. TCAT doesn’t need me . . . but I need TCAT.
His attitude and determination has earned rich praise from local Safer Neighbourhood police constable Steve Butler.
Samoon is a raw, real-life character who has a powerful story to tell, and wants to educate others to avoid the mistakes which he made.
Because he is now mixing with adults groups at Telford College, it is giving him the extra confidence he needs to help integrate himself into society.
His character jumps out, and that’s the result of the work which TCAT and Reed NCFE have offered him within the TCAT community.
Reed NCFE is the on-site service at TCAT which helps to prepare students for the world of work, and job interviews.
Spokesman Nick Lewis said:
Samoon approached us to explore options for work, and said he really would like to make a difference to young people’s lives – in particular to dissuade them from following the same path he did.
When he told us his captivating, tragic, shocking and inspirational story, we suggested that students at TCAT would benefit from hearing his story.
Any lessons they learned would be straight from someone who had lived that life, giving extra credibility and integrity.
Reed NCFE worked with Samoon to put together a presentation and lesson plan, and he has just delivered his first session to students.
TCAT safeguarding co-ordinator Terri Jones said:
Samoon said to me that if he could use his story to prevent just one young person from doing drugs, then he would have succeeded.
By volunteering here at TCAT, his message is being heard by hundreds of young people, and spreading far and wide.
Samoon is an inspiration not only to me, but to everyone he comes into contact with – his personality, motivation and drive is infectious, and I am in no doubt that his story will help lots of young people.
He is willing to learn new skills to make a difference in his own life, and to share this with the wider community. I don’t think Samoon quite believes the impact his story has – or that he is now being supported by the police.