Junior James is a fascinating man, a ‘larger-than-life’ character who oozes energy and enthusiasm. He’s gone from being a busy, but never happy, drug dealer to a NOMS ‘Service User of the Year’ via a spell inside. He made best use of his time in prison by taking advantage of every training and education opportunity he was given, and is now committed to helping others break out of a criminal lifestyle. However, when going through all this, he became aware of one of the major shortcomings with what is on offer for prisoners and was recently quoted in The Voice on-line as saying that it would be particularly useful for courses on entrepreneurship to be available.
Now, ‘entrepreneur’ can mean any number of things in reality, from the likes of Richard Branson and the ‘Dragons’ in TV’s den to someone running a hot-dog stall at a festival or setting up a shelter for the homeless . So I rang him to ask him what he meant: “Being self-employed, mate. That’s the crux of it. It’s all very well giving training courses and helping people getting qualifications, but if you’ve got a record, no-one’s gonna want to employ you, so you’ve got to do it yourself.” And, by and large, he’s right. As we chat we agree that there are a few enlightened employers out there, but not many. We agree that what people need is to learn how to run a business either for just themselves or to employ others. And anyone who’s tried it will tell you it’s not all plain sailing and counting your money. A very high proportion of new businesses go under in the first three years and there’s a lot to learn and a lot at stake. And preparation and knowing what you’re getting yourself into is key to success.
So, keen make best use of his time, put right past mistakes, encourage other not to get involved in dealing and to put his money where his mouth is, Junior took to writing. He first started in prison, showed a few pages to a few mates, got some good feedback about this wit and his style and so carried on. He writes about his life and the way he used to live in in a way that gets to the truth of the paranoia, the fear and the stress that is so often overlooked by young people who see only the money, the status and the bling on offer with a coke-dealer’s trade. He’s funny, direct and real and he’s working on his third book now. The first two, Different, Parts 1 & 2, are available on his website: www.juniorjames.co.uk. Check him out, he’s different.