Two dads say they hope to make Crawley a safer place with a new mentor scheme.
Steve Bilotto, 39, from Gossops Green, and Colin Morris,53, from Bewbush, are training to become mentors for young men through a scheme called A Band of Brothers.
The charity scheme, which is already successfully running in Brighton, aims to bring young and older men in the community together to provide young men with troubled backgrounds with positive role models.
After taking part in a preliminary mentor training weekend the two men went to a camping weekend where they met some of the young lads enrolled in the programme, many of whom were ex-convicts.
Colin said: “These young men’s stories were tear jerking, bar none. They are traumatised, it’s heart wrenching.
“Society does not see that, they just see a bunch of kids hanging around on street corners causing trouble.”
Steve agreed, adding that by the end of the weekend, the young lads’ attitudes were greatly improved.
He said: “Their progress was extraordinary. They were full of hope and enthusiasm for life by the time they left.
“I felt the world was a slightly place after that.”
Steve, a father-of-three young children, said part of the reason he joined the programme was to make him feel the town was a little safer for his children.
He said: “The most compelling thing for me is I have three children and I’m quite afraid if I see young men in the street. I can feel a sense of fear and I don’t want my children to grow up feeling that.
“It would be great if my three children could grow up in a slightly safer world.”
A main aim of the project is to create a trusting environment for the young men.
Steve said: “Men don’t normally talk openly with their friends about some of that stuff they’ve experienced. Band of Brothers gives these men a safe environment to start exploring that.”
Colin agreed and added that he enjoyed the ‘brotherhood’ the programme offered.