"Gang crime was once a way of life for me. I grew up in Edgware and Paddington and attended a school where postcode wars were prevalent. When I was young, my friendship group got involved in a gang and things started to spiral. I found himself involved in some incidents where people got seriously hurt.

Even though I knew what was happening was wrong, peer pressure is a powerful thing as a teenager, and it overruled my conscience. I’ve lost three friends to knife crime and watched others get time in prison and realised that I needed to change.

"When I made that change, I studied hard and set up my own company distributing health products, but when demand fell, my business folded. I became homeless, living on sofas or in the mosque in my community. I couldn’t find work despite applying for more than 50 jobs.

"I decided to truly start afresh, I needed to move away from the area I was in, so I moved to Coventry where I now live. This was tough at first, I felt isolated from my friends and family, and fulfilling work was hard to come by.

"I enrolled on The Prince’s Trust Team programme hoping it would open some doors. During the programme, I was able to draw out some strong leadership skills, landed sessional work as a motivational coach and started to get fit. I qualified as a personal trainer and began a fitness training business.

"The skills I realised in myself as a leader, and the platform I have to be able to share my story is crucial and I’m now dedicating my whole life to being a motivational speaker and life coach.

"Working to inspire young people, I give talks and run workshops to young offenders and students, sharing my story with them to help show that it is possible to break away from gang life and crime.

I know that having positive role models and self-belief can encourage young people to raise their aspirations and consider taking more positive paths in life.

"I know as much as anyone that it can be really hard to move away from a certain lifestyle. But I found inner strength and ability to help and inspire others in the same situation. It really is possible to change your life if you have the support of others and the determination to succeed. I think I’m proof of that."

www.omarinspires.com