In 2022, Bailey left our Cyrenians Farm to go to his dream job. Now, 18 months on, he looks back on how the community, support and experience he got working on the farm helped him build the positive future he wanted.
Things had been bad at home for a very long time.
My mum had a lot of trouble with her boyfriends and it often wasn’t safe for me to be around. So when I was a kid I spent a lot of time with my grandparents down in the Borders. They’ve got a farm down there, and grandad trains dogs – he's really good, he’s been all around the world working as a trainer, and as a kid I had dogs down there and he helped me train them up. He was really hoping that I’d carry on the family tradition and follow in his footsteps.
When I was 13 or so, me and Mum moved up to West Lothian to get away from a bad situation with her ex. It was good in a lot of ways – she was able to get a lot more support, and there was work up here, but by that time I’d fallen in with a pretty rough crowd – I got involved in a lot of rough stuff. I stopped seeing my grandad for a long time, and when he saw I wasn’t coming back he sold on my dogs and tried to come to terms with the idea I wouldn’t be a trainer like he hoped.
I wanted to work on farms, though. I love it – it's really exciting and unpredictable, even if you’ve got everything planned out there’s always surprises. So if I was going to find a legit career, it was always going to be on farms. When I was in my late teens, my HYPE key worker lined me up with a couple of placements, but nothing really worked out until she found me a spot at the Cyrenians Farm.
The Farm took me on as a volunteer, and then a few weeks later a Community Jobs Scotland role came up and they encouraged me to apply - so I became a Farm Trainee, and after that I got promoted up to a Farm Worker.
It took me a while to come out of my shell. When I started, there’s no way I’d have been able to sit down and relax and eat with total strangers.
But the Farm changed my outlook – it showed me not everyone’s out to get me.
It was like a big family – everyone with Cyrenians has your back, even if you don’t know them, and the people on the Farm totally changed my life. Before I was there, I spent all my time sitting around at home smoking up and not doing much. I’ve got ADHD, and having work to keep me active made such a difference.
The Farm got me back into dog training. I had a friend who’s a member of staff at the Farm Community, and her friend was trying to rehome a dog whose owner wanted to put him to sleep because she couldn’t handle him. That’s how I got Shep – my first dog since I was at my granddad’s. He’d not been treated right and I had to help him learn how to trust people and how to behave. That helped me remember how much I really love training dogs.
Above: Bailey and some of his dogs, November 2023
After a couple of years on the Farm, I got a job offer down in the Borders working with sheepdogs. I got on with everyone so well, it was really hard to leave. But I’m still in touch with my friends at Cyrenians all the time, and things are so good now.
I’m starting to build up a really great future for myself.
I’ve been here a year, and things are moving so fast – the job comes with a house and all the bills covered, and my boss has just bought some new land that I’m going to be taking charge of. So I’m getting a pay rise and a promotion. I've got six dogs at the moment, and I’ve started my own business as well, training sheepdogs just like my granddad hoped. I sold my first dog recently, and I’m going to be getting a flock of sheep in the new year.
My relationships and my mental health are so much better too. Me and Mum are getting on now I’ve moved away and she’s not picking up after me all the time, and I’ve got a girlfriend who’s into the same stuff I’m into. The support I got when I was with Cyrenians helped so much with my mental health – just having someone to talk to and somewhere to go – and that’s really carried through into my life down here.
If I’d still been going round with my old crew, I don't know where I’d be now – probably a junkie, dead or in jail. Instead, stuff just keeps getting better and better.
If it wasn’t for the Cyrenians Farm, I would never have had the confidence to say yes to all of this.
Above: Some of the dogs Bailey has trained since leaving the Farm