“I feel in love with it straight away and now they can't get rid of us,” laughs Dale, who first joined GalGael as a Journey On participant in the winter of 2014 and continues to volunteer there six months after completing the course.
“Everybody gets along with everyone,” says the 21-year-old. “All the people just make you feel welcome, and the staff are brilliant.”
Dale himself entered the care system when he was only twelve months old. His mother was unable to look after him while she struggled with alcoholism. “A lot of the people who come here have been through the exact same. Not many of them stayed with their mum growing up. Some have had it rougher, some have had it easier but we all know what we've been through in our lives and we're all in the same boat.”
He explains: “I've learnt about working with people from different backgrounds – some are alcoholics, some are ex-drug users, some are from different countries. It's a mixed environment.”
Dale, who was born in Glasgow's south side but was moved to a care home in Clackmannan as a teenager, talks about the difficulties of managing on his own when he left care. He returned Glasgow and had his own tenancy from the age of 16, struggling to budget for food and utilities.
“I got there in the end but I did go through rough spells”. Dale says that he fell in with the wrong crowd, and got involved with gang fighting around the Gorbals and Calton. “But I wanted a life for myself, not stuck in a jail looking at four walls all day. Work – that's what I wanted.”
When he was 17 he started a mechanics apprenticeship: “It was a bit iffy at first because I'd never worked before and if you didn't something wrong you got told about it! But you got into the habit.”
But it is working at GalGael that has really captured Dale's imagination: “I like working with my hands, I like grafting, and when they told me about this – you can go on the work benches, you can work on things that have been commissioned, you can go outside to the timber yard - it's endless the different stuff you can do”.
Everybody gets a say at GalGael, he adds. “There's a morning check-in where you talk about what's happening and any ideas people have: who is looking after the Journey On participants, what commissions are on, if there's a tour happening. Everybody discusses it.”
The most important thing that he has learnt from his time at GalGael is that, no matter how different people are, you can still get on with them. “At the end of the day they're another human being and they are here to better themselves as much as I am. These are friends for life I'd say.”