Andy realised he had a passion to engage children and young people and started working with young people as a play leader in the summer of 2000. During this time Andy had moved in with supportive lodgings carers and was studying for a BTEC in Sports Science at Shrewsbury College of Arts And Technology. Andy quickly established the importance of hard work and also had two other jobs at college working at a local restaurant as a kitchen porter and at Perfect Pizza.
Following the completion of his college course Andy Moved to Chester University to study Sports Science. Andy admits the University lifestyle and his avoidance, lack of support from the trauma he suffered as a child in care led him onto a path of self destruction. Andy failed his first year at University, but enrolled onto a Geography degree. This is where Andy flourished and realised he could not be a victim of his past and graduated with a 2:2 BA hons degree in 2006.
Following the completion of his degree and bringing an end to four years living in Chester Andy secured a job as “Support and Guidance worker” working for the Leaving Care Team at Shropshire County Council. This was where Andy would really shape his skills and enhance his desire to work with the most vulnerable young people in the community. Andy felt that this job gave him a sense of purpose and that the young people he supported were inspired by his journey in care and positive approach. During this role Andy was also successful in landing an internship as an advisor for the Associate Parliament Group for looked After Children offering advice around policy and change for young people as well as championing the Young Persons voice.
Andy has since worked for local councils, and the NHS leading and supporting various health projects targeting at enhancing the wellbeing of children, young people and adults. Andy particually enjoyed working on a project called Telford Green Gym where he worked on a day to day basis introducing adults to exercising in green spaces enhancing their community as well as their own wellbeing. Andy admits this also had a positive effect on his own wellbeing working in a calm and therapeutic environment.
Andy then ran a project in a community in Telford, being a positive role model as a community Development Worker in a community that had been rocked by CSE and ASB. Andy found this is where he came into his own, working with different age groups, cultures and learning how to effectively educate, inspire and bring people together promoting community cohesion.
For the past 14 years Andy has worked extensively with vulnerable young people and adults, managed staff and volunteers and has recently joined forces with his brother Matt to form Smash Life utilising both their personal and professional experiences to inform, educate and inspire young people and fellow professionals through shared life mentoring, talks, training, group work and consultancy.
Andy has always maintained that working directly with young people, his love of sport, football and living a healthy lifestyle with a positive attitude has been the main constant in his life and something that acts as a form of therapy. Through Andy’s love of sport and exercise and Matt’s love of Music, Smash life are able to offer vulnerable young people a positive diversion.
In 2019 Andy alongside his brother Matt won the Shrewsbury Town Council Mayors Award for ‘making a difference to young people’ as part of Smash Life’s outstanding work within the area. Smash Life have been nominated for the National Community Organisation Award for AGE at The National Diversity Awards 2020 in association with ITV news and have been mentioned in Telford & Wrekin Council Outstanding OFSTED report in 2020. Telford & Wrekin was the first Council outside London to go from Requires Improvement (2016) to OUTSTANDING! and the only Council in the West Midlands and North West to be OUTSTANDING!
Having sold out their Smash Life Launch Event in 2019 the Smith brothers have gone onto to be booked by Universities, Private Foster Care Organisations, Safeguarding Conferences, Schools, Colleges, Charities, Pupil Referral Units, to talk to CEO’s, managers, professionals, students and young people around the UK. These powerful talks have a clear aim, to improve practice amongst professionals and inspire the next generation of young people who may themselves suffered early childhood traumas.
Watch out for public Smash Life Talks which you can buy tickets for and see it for yourself.