Preston man excluded from school travels the world and pens a book after coming to a 'crossroads in life'
A Preston man says he turned his life around after being excluded from school and has since travelled the world and written an inspirational book.
Rickeem Richardo Jones, 28, said he had a ‘mid-life crisis at 22’ and was ‘hanging out with the wrong people’.
He has now written ‘Thoughts on a Page’ and founded social enterprise ‘Achievable Ways of Living’ to help those who may be ‘stuck in a rut’ to build self confidence.
Rickeem originally had the idea for his book in 2018 but put it off until lockdown was announced last year.
“At the time, I lost my job,” he said.
“I moved to London, had an agency job in the education system but I got laid off.
“You could say I had a lot of time on my hands and I thought it was the perfect time to start writing.”
The self-published author has so far sold 150 copies across the country and internationally and says more orders are coming in ‘by the day’.
Reading and writing helped Rickeem to get over losing his job.
“Reading has been a huge part of my life,” he said, “It changed my mindset and my whole perspective on life.
“Throughout the whole lockdown, reading and writing kept my mind in the right place.”
He says he enjoys reading books about psychology, personal development and entrepreneurs as well as philosophy and hopes that his book will be an inspiration to others, particularly young people.
“My book isn’t for a specific person but it’s for people who feel like they need that extra bit of motivation and inspiration,” he said.
“My audience is very much a young audience but I do have people from the age of 24 and the book has had a real impact on the over-30s.
“The content in the book allows people to reflect and look deep within themselves and I think people who are at the age of 30 are at the stage where they’re reflecting on life: especially in lockdown.”
Rickeem had a hard time at school in Preston and was excluded multiple times. Now he wants to reach out to young people in the same position.
“I didn’t have self belief in school,” said Rickeem.
“I didn’t have the confidence to believe I was capable of getting an education.
“A lot of things I was surrounded by in my area weren’t giving me perspective.
“So my whole mission is to teach the young people that, with a bit of self-belief and a bit of confidence, you can achieve some crazy feats.
“I didn’t think that half of the things I’ve achieved in my life were possible at the time.
“I want young people to look at me as an example of what is possible when you get your head down and surround yourself with the right people and commit to a craft.”
In 2015, Rickeem says he came to a ‘crossroads in life’ and says he started to reconsider ‘where he was’ and ‘who he was hanging around with’ as well as his career.
“I was working at the James Hall warehouse because I had quite a few friends there,” he said.
“It was kind of like a mid-life crisis at 22.
“I thought ‘do you know what, there’s more to life’ - I didn’t know what it was or where but I needed to find it.”
After this realisation, Rickeem handed in his notice at work, took a year out and decided to travel.
“I had always wanted to go to Brazil and Barcelona,” Rickeem said, “I thought, ‘if I don’t do it now, then I’m never going to do it’.”
He says that the amount he learned from this bold move was ‘phenomenal’.
“At the time people were calling me crazy!
“I had so many critics and people doubting me because I was so positive and found a new lease of life.
“I don’t think people expected it from me and they probably saw it as a quick transition but, for me, it was a development over time.”
A lack of satisfaction from his job spurred the move.
“I was not enjoying work: I was going in with doubts in my mind and waking up thinking of excuses I could make.
“It got to the point where I said ‘enough is enough’.”
He said he took a lot of time to read, study and learn during his year out.
“It’s fulfilling to know I’ve inspired people and to know where I am now,” Rickeem said.
The 28-year-old was born in London but went to school in Preston and spent 20 years in the city.
He has made it his mission to return to the schools he was excluded from to show students that ‘anything is possible’.
“This is something personal, especially if the teachers are still there too because they will be able to see the transition I have made.
“I know there are young people in the same situation I was in and I want to give hope, not just to them but society as well.”
Rickeem says he wants to help anyone who has come to a ‘crossroads in life’ or wants to pursue a dream and thanked his mother, Colleen Francis and Preston United Youth Development for helping him on his journey.
“Really take life head on and don’t hold back,” he said.