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, an Ordained Minister and has served as a Prison Chaplain. 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 an active member 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 or 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 more recent years Dez has worked as a sessional Chaplain in HMP ISIS and has consistently volunteered at HMP Pentoville 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 for those from the BAME community. The course is appraised by the Youth Justice Board as “Effective Practice” alongside Spark2Life’s Group and 1:1 mentoring programmes. He was recently invited to speak at Warren Hill, Hollesley Bay and Woodhill prisons on the issue of Equality and Black History.
Dez leads the Spark2Life Team which is made of 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 the team is made of of individuals who are passionate about the client group. Reformed offenders are positive mentors that have an understanding of the futility and damage that certain lifestyles can bring, and understand the journey that they themselves have made in exiting such lifestyles. These mentors 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.