Sheridan had been in and out of crime for most of his adult life. A life-long Londoner, he’d done various gardening jobs over the years but nothing permanent, and no thought of a career. With little to live on, the temptation of crime was always there to earn some extra money. He got involved in a gang that dealt drugs. It soon got serious. As a result of his criminal activity, Sheridan was shot at three times, the last time with a gun held to his head, point blank. “This was a serious wake up call,” says Sheridan, “I decided at the age of 42 that it was time to move on. I had to leave London, start again.”
Sheridan moved to Dover but struggled to find work. He found out about Blue Sky through Kennedy Scott, the Work Programme provider in the area. He was offered a job with Blue Sky as part of Veolia’s waste management contract. He started work as driver loader on the bin round. “Looking back,” he says, “at the start, I didn’t think much of a job on the bins, not the most glamorous job in the world. But I thought it was worth giving it a try.”
Sheridan got stuck in, did a good job, and soon got noticed for all the right reasons. Veolia told him there was a permanent job going as a 7.5-tonne lorry driver, but first he needed his Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) to enable him to train as a driver. Blue Sky paid for the CPC, Sheridan passed the test, got the job and got trained up. Since then he has also been trained as a mechanical sweeper lorry. He’s now being talked of as a potential charge hand, looking after a group of 20 workers and also driving a HGV vehicle (up to 32 tonnes).
Sheridan is full of praise for Veolia who took him full-time on after his start with Blue Sky. “They go above and beyond, make you feel part of something bigger, something important. When I had some problems at home with my girlfriend, they gave me some time off. They think about your future and make plans for you…Mike Cunningham [the contract manager] and the other staff have been great. I’m with like-minded people, who want to get the work done. We’ve even won an award from the council for our work.”
The impact of a solid job has been transformational for Sheridan. “I’ve made a new life for myself from scratch,” he says. “I’ve made some life-long friends, people I go to dinner with and spend time with their families.” It’s also changed his outlook, made him re-evaluate what’s important to him. “I used to love driving fast, loved the thrill of speed, which got me into a lot of trouble, but now I’m more sensible. I used to drive a sports car costing me £10 a day to run, but now I’ve got a diesel car costing £10 a week. And I don’t want to get points on my licence for speeding, they cost double if you’ve got a CPC… I’ve worked to gain something I don’t want to lose.”
Having left behind London, and the fast lane of gangs and crime, Sheridan is now motoring along nicely with Veolia towards a safer future with good prospects. We wish him well.