Ex-offender turns life around with new charity

Omar Sentamu and Scott Valero, co-founders of "Heal our World". Pic: Scott Valero.

Omar Sentamu and Scott Valero, co-founders of “Heal our World”. Pic: Scott Valero.

A young ex-offender has turned his life around by launching a charity to help and inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds across Croydon.

Scott Valero, now 22, faced an uncertain future when he given a 20-month sentence for his involvement in the London riots in the summer of 2011, aged 19.

Whilst serving his sentence, he volunteered to take part in an experiment led by ITV “Bring Back Borstal”, which was based on the infamous, gruelling 1930’s style of Borstal prison life.

Valero thrived in the challenging conditions of the rehabilitation programme, along with 12 other troublemakers for the full four-weeks.

Criminologist Professor David Wilson claimed that, during the Borstal days, a mere 30 per cent of inmates re-offended, which is far less than todays 70 per cent.

Three years later, after attending both an adult jail and a rehabilitation centre as part of the

same sentence, Valero, along side 21-year-old Michael Till and 24-year-old Omar Sentamu, is launching a charity.

The charity, Heal Our World, wants to help young people stuck in a life of crime and other difficult circumstances.

Heal Our World’s website claims the charity will: “improve disadvantaged people’s quality of life.”

It states: “We are committed with our lives to a different model and a different future for humanity.”

Sentamu told Eastlondonlines: “The aim is to provide an incentive and inspiration to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach their full potential.”

When asked his motivations for creating the charity, he said it was : “Realising the system wasn’t working and it didn’t work for us.”

Speaking to the Croydon Guardian, Valero explained: “The month in a Borstal did help me to change, but I have also made this decision myself.”

“I know a lot of kids who need our help, but no one is giving them a chance.”

The group will find out on February 9 if their charity status application has been successful.

Plans for launch events are already underway. The team have an “inspiration day” planned in May, as well as a fundraiser in June, both taking place in Croydon.

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