Yousuf Naeem (pictured above) spent his childhood split between his native Kashmir and Dulwich.
But he was soon involved with the wrong people and on the wrong path, in his last year at secondary school. He struggled with anger management and processing emotions and was soon getting into fights. That sparked him into researching the best ways to turn his life around.
He discovered the Outward Bound Trust – but the cost made it out of the question. That was until he received a charity bursary from Dulux to complete the three-week Life Skills Award course in Ullswater in the Lake District.
Yousuf threw himself in at the deep end – literally. The first challenge asked him to launch himself into a lake – even though he cannot swim.
The Outward Bound (OB) course led Yousuf to discover skills he didn’t know he had. He learned teamwork for the first time; he didn’t lose his temper when his idea wasn’t the best option; he developed communication skills, by accepting feedback which didn’t lead to a confrontation.
All that came through a series of group challenges and expeditions. But his solo expedition was even more of an eye-opener – he realised that for the first time, he had felt no anger for three weeks.
The physics and maths student was calmed by the focus required to navigate his new surroundings and learn how to solve the problems he met.
Yousuf said: “While every day of the course holds a special place in my heart, the day that stands out the most to me was our solo expedition.
“I spent around 13 hours alone on a mountain in the Hellvellyn Range without any technology.
As I was in my sleeping bag listening to the rain fall on my tent I realised that for nearly two whole weeks I had not felt any anger, anxiety or restlessness.
“It made me feel incredibly happy – not because I had achieved some unimaginable task, but rather because it made me believe in myself, that I could do things I’d always thought I couldn’t.
“I realised there was more to me than just the angry kid who’s good at throwing a strop. I think back and realise, while at the time it may not have been obvious, my mindset truly changed that day – and I am a better person because of it.”
The course gave Yousuf a forced break from technology – one he hadn’t realised was so important. “I envy the people who go on this course after me and get to experience it all for the first time all over again, I truly do,” he said.
“The OB Award has not only taught me new skills but allowed me to make friends who I still speak to nearly every day. The OB Trust has given me an experience I will never forget and for that I can not thank them enough.
“The OB Skills for Life Award went on all of my university applications, all my job applications and the certificate hangs on my wall to remind me of my wonderful time every day.
I wear my OB badge with pride on my suits and am proud to share my story. “The people who attend these courses are better people because of them and without organisations such a Dulux, they simply wouldn’t be possible.”
This year, Yousuf will be helping to teach at a school for expelled students to help others avoid the wrong path.
Events like the Dulux London Revolution, a sponsored cycle ride in North London in May, that vital funds are raised to support places for young people in need.
To find out more about the www.outwardbound.org.uk/, visit www.outwardbound.org.uk/