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Newham man hopes tattoo studio will transform his life

PUBLISHED: 12:01 16 June 2014 | UPDATED: 12:01 16 June 2014

Stewart Laing is one of ten young Londoners chosen as part of the Frontline London Campaign 
Picture by GLENN COPUS©

Stewart Laing is one of ten young Londoners chosen as part of the Frontline London Campaign Picture by GLENN COPUS©

Glenn Copus©

A man who realised he needed to turn his life around when he was faced with the barrel of a gun has been awarded a grant to help him set up a tattoo studio.

Stewart Laing, 26, from North Woolwich is one of ten London-based entrepreneurs chosen to take part in a campiagn run by the Lloyds Banking Group, the Cabinet Office, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and The Evening Standard.

The Frontline London campaign aims to help young people who have suffered traumatic childhoods and in many cases involvement with criminal gangs to turn their lives around, leave gang life and set up social businesses. It is backed by £150,000 funding from Lloyds Banking Group and the Cabinet Office and is now breaking new ground by offering ten young Londoners, committed to reforming their lives, an enhanced package of support to help them to become successful social entrepreneurs.

Stewart’s business idea, a tattoo studio giving apprenticeships to troubled youths, will be brought to life with the help of a grant of up to £8,000, a business mentor from Lloyds Banking Group and access to a seventh-month tailored learning programme from the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

Following his dad’s death when he was young, Stewart started to get into a lot of trouble at school and has been involved in young mental health services from a young age. His mum kicked him out when he was 15 and violence and street hustling became part of his everyday life. The major turning point for Stewart was when he found himself in a situation involving a gun, having already been previously shot, and was so close to being shot again that he realised he needed to get out of the lifestyle.

Now he plans to set up a tattoo studio with a difference, offering tattoos to the public but also working with local Pupil Referral Units and young people’s mental health services to offer 1-2-1 work experience to young people with mental health issues. From this he will select a couple of young people to join a training and apprenticeship scheme with his studio and will continue mentoring alongside this.

Stewart said: “I am so proud to be selected for this programme, which will make a huge difference not only to my life but the lives of many others too. I can’t wait to get started and begin building my enterprise from the ground up.”

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