Former criminal becomes crime prevention campaigner
A former criminal from Bradford, who was previously handed a nine year prison sentence for a drug related offence, has since helped over 15,000 children deter from a life of crime.
Arfan Naseer, known as Naz, is not your ordinary ex-convict.
He is the founder of Bradford-based Con-sequence – an organisation set up to highlight the true impact of a criminal lifestyle with help and accounts from ex-offenders.
After falling into the wrong crowd in his teenage years, Naz paid the price for delving into the illegal practice of drug dealing and was soon arrested for his role.
During his time behind bars, he suffered from low self-esteem yet one meeting with a representative from the national charity – The Prince’s Trust – soon turned his life around.
“I was lucky because I was given a second chance,” he said. “I had someone who believed in me with the Prince’s Trust and it allowed me to flourish and become what I am now.”
Working alongside the charity – which aims to help unemployed or struggling young people to transform their lives – Naz was able to share his story with children across the North of England.
He became the country’s first serving prisoner to work alongside the Trust, as he began to undertake the huge task of turning around the lives of youngsters who may have ended up in a life of crime.
“At that time, there were no visuals, no props, it was just me talking to the kids,” he said.
“I learnt so much from that time that when I was released, I continued working with the Trust for a couple of years.”
A short time later Naz set up his own enterprise, Con-sequence, to continue and build on the work he had started during his incarceration.
Since then, Con-Sequence has worked with children across the north of England, delivering presentations to schools and community groups, and reaching out to over 15,000 young people.
In 2015 the enterprise joined forces with Bradford’s Centre of Excellence.
The centre, which features in-house mock jail cells, a court and living area, was developed as part of the city’s pledge to do more to prevent ‘at risk’ young members of society turning to crime.
Based at Girlington Community Centre, the facilities are located in the city which Naz grew up and was arrested in.
“At the moment we are delivering all the sessions on prison and crime at the centre,” he explained.
“So far, around 1,600 kids have attended classes as we reiterate the point that any criminal lifestyle is only ever short-lived.”
He added: “There are two things I guarantee to anybody considering a life in crime.
“First of all, I tell them they will end up in prison. That is a guarantee. Secondly, it could cause your death.”
The second point is doubly true for Naz who saw one of his co-workers gunned down earlier this year for turning his back on his former criminal life style.
“He was one of our former outreach workers,” Naz said. “He approached the group two years ago and said he didn’t want paying for the work, he just wanted to help the community
“Con-sequence was working with him, I focussed on the drugs side, and he would focus more on the violence crimes.
“Unfortunately, due to his former lifestyle, his so-called former partners beat him up this Ramadan and gunned him down outside his home in West Bowling. He was shot in the head.
“That person has left behind a family and a wife.”
The man’s father is now working with Con-Sequence to highlight the impact a criminal lifestyle can have on the entire family.
“We aren’t talking about movie plots to these kids,” he added. “These are the faces they see every day in Bradford who are being killed because of crime.”
With over 10 years of work on the project, Naz now has ambitions to roll out the project nationwide.
He hopes to meet with government officials and MPs to discuss plans of expansion.
“I want the chance to make this into a hardcore subject for schools,” he said. “Young people are aspiring to be role models in the wrong crowd - I know that because I did too.
“Now I want to do something to change these perceptions and make Bradford, and the UK, a better place to grow up in.”