YOUNG people from Andover shared their stories of how they left crime and drug use behind them at a special event organised by Fixers.

Local MP Sir George Young and Test Valley Borough Council mayor Dorothy Baverstock attended the event and listened to the stories.

Fixers is a national movement of young people tackling issues they feel strongly about to make a difference to the lives of others.

Garreth McCarthy, 25, Jack Philipps, 23, and Ellie Silcock, 19, shared their experiences and explained why and how they become Fixers to help other young people in Andover turn their lives around.

Speaking at Andover youth venue The Junction, Garreth showed a film he made with Fixers entitled The Right Path. It dramatises the tough choices young people often face to avoid falling into crime.

Ellie began taking illegal drugs aged 11 and has been homeless in Andover. She said: “There are many people on the streets around here and there is not enough support for them.

“I was very angry for a long time, but by seeking help I have turned my life around.

But there are others who could have been here who are not, because they have not had help and some of them have taken their lives.”

Jack, who has spent a total of 15 months in prison, is similarly determined to get his voice heard by setting up a Fixers project.

He said: “A lot of young people are not going to listen to officials, or even their parents.

I understand they need help from their peers. I want to talk to these kids and tell them not to go on the wrong path.”

Sir George said: “There is clearly a need for more emergency accommodation for young people in the town and also for a service like the one provided by Fixers to reach out to young people in trouble.”

Cllr Baverstock promised to arrange further discussions with Garreth, Ellie and Jack. She said: “I was overwhelmed by the young people’s stories, it really was very moving to hear how they turned their lives around and are now helping others to do the same.”

The award-winning Fixers project has already supported almost 7,000 young people in the UK. Thanks to a £7.2m grant from the Big Lottery Fund, it now aims to work with a further 20,000.