An events planning agency is one of the first three start-ups by former South London gang members to benefit from a £10k grant by The London Evening Standard newspaper.
The Standard’s grants are part of an initiative to support young people trying to put their gang life behind them and help them set up and grow social enterprises.
Three start-up businesses, including an events company, were the first to receive their grants from the newspaper’s Dispossessed Fund.
NewBiggz is the name of the event planning company set up by former Brixton gang leader Karl Lokko, 23, Pastor Mimi Asher and four friends. The newspaper is to print his story today (8 October).
“NewBiggz stands for New Beginnings,” the group says, “the need to give second chances to people who didn’t get the best start in life?We steered away from this and have created something positive for ourselves and our community”.
In the past two years, Lokko and his team have organised community events in Brixton including weddings, engagements, themed parties and a Christmas Ball.
The Standard’s new campaign is run in partnership with the Kids Company charity.
“Many young people realise that gang life is a one-way ticket to nowhere, but struggle to exit,” The Standard said. “This pilot project offers a way out and sets the ball rolling to explore new initiatives.”
The newspaper is asking its readers “to put business their way and simply give them a try”.
“Leaving my gang was very, very hard,” said Lokko. “I felt like I was divorcing my family.”
The three initial start-up groups chosen had to pass through a rigorous selection process, Dragon’s Den style, and demonstrate they had broken with their criminal past and that their social enterprise was viable and of benefit to the local community.
Any event industry professionals interested in mentoring the new businesses can go to standard.co.uk/frontlinelondon
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