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Community award for reformed Norwich drug taker

PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 01 July 2010

Dean Croft picks up award from  Susie Fowler-Watt

Dean Croft picks up award from Susie Fowler-Watt

Steve Downes

A Norwich man who used drugs for a decade and became homeless three years ago has snapped up an award after turning his life around.

Dean Croft, 35, has transformed his life through volunteering and learning, and now helps young people in the same situation that he was in.

A Norwich man who used drugs for a decade and became homeless three years ago has snapped up an award after turning his life around.

Dean Croft, 35, has transformed his life through volunteering and learning, and now helps young people in the same situation that he was in.

His dedication was recognised when he picked up a “transforming lives” award at a glitzy ceremony held as part of Adult Learners' Week.

After years of drug taking and a spell of homelessness, Mr Croft got involved in Norwich City Council's learning, employment and accommodation project (Leap).

Volunteering three days a week with the Salvation Army, he sought advice from Leap and become to pursue his passion for cooking and becoming a chef.

Since then, he “has been a shining light of the project”, according to his nominator, Barry Allard.

Referred to college, Mr Croft took a training course in cooking and food preparation but, told that he lacked the experience to undertake an NVQ level two course, secured part-time work in a professional kitchen 24 hours a week.

Alongside his studying and work, he also finds the time to help out with cookery classes at the Transform Project which helps vulnerable adults in supported housing learn new skills.

Mr Croft said: “I have been helping the main tutor with all aspects of the course. I enjoy giving something back and helping young people who are in the same situation as I was when I started out.

“I hope to fill them with confidence and stop them going down the path that I did. Learning has kept me on track. It has given me something in my life. It makes me feel like a better person and not a waste.”

John Hayes, minister for further education and skills, said: “Inspiring stories such as these highlight the real difference learning can make to people's lives.

“Developing skills and gaining qualifications is not just for young people. Adult Learners' Week shows the personal and social benefits that learning can bring to enrich the lives of individuals and communities, as well as giving people better job prospects.”

The awards were organised by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, which is the leading non-government organisation for lifelong learning in England, and exists to encourage more and different adults to engage in better-quality learning of all kinds.

t Do you have a story of against-the-odds success? Call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email steve.downes@archant.co.uk.

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