Dez is the CEO of Greenleaf Trust and the Founder and Director of Spark2Life, winning a National Youth Justice Award with Spark2Life in its first year (2007) for – ‘Outstanding contribution in tackling youth crime’. Dez has also been awarded 2 Borough Commander Commendations for support to the community in tackling youth crime. Dez is a reformed offender with lived experience of the Criminal Justice System – Dez was incarcerated, sadly for a violent offence in 1990-93. Dez is now a qualified Person-Centred Therapist, and up until 2020 served for 16 years as an Ordained Minister. He is a gifted communicator and regularly delivers training and bespoke sessions at conferences, events and in prisons in the UK. In 2005 Dez Published a book called ‘Convicted or Condemned’ which depicts his story and is available to buy. Dez is a member of the Black Men for Change Network and sits on the Clinks ‘Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Board’ that advises the government on reducing reoffending.
Dez has diverse experiences of working with young and vulnerable people in both the formal and informal sector, he developed & led a large dynamic Youth Ministry in East London for 13 years and gained experience developing Teams and Leaders that have gone on to become Community Communicators. In previous years Dez worked as a sessional Chaplain in HMP ISIS and for a year volunteered at HMP Pentonville as a counsellor. During his training as a Therapist Dez wrote an AQA accredited mentoring course that seeks to address desistance for people in contact with the CJS with a specialist lens in how to support those from black and racially minoritised communities. The course is appraised by the Youth Justice Board as “Effective Practice” alongside Spark2Life’s Group and 1:1 mentoring programmes.
Dez leads the Spark2Life Team which is made up of people from diverse backgrounds-each with unique life experiences, he encourages and provides opportunities of employment for those who have been involved in gangs and criminal activity with lived experience of the CJS. A key factor contributing to the success of Spark2Life is that the team has individuals who are passionate about the client group. Reformed offenders and those with lived experience are credible messengers that understand the futility and damage that certain lifestyles can bring but understand the journey that they themselves have made when extracting/protecting themselves from such lifestyles. These credible messengers are uniquely positioned to do the “Paradigm Shifting” work that is so crucial in challenging and reshaping the beliefs and attitudes that young offenders hold which in turn influence their behaviour. Dez uses his lived experience of the CJS alongside his professional experiences to inform some of the strategic decisions that shape the way in which Spark2Life’s services are delivered.