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Community lynchpin - Leon Herbert

18/11/2021

In this profile on local Black British change makers making history today - Leon Herbert is the eptiome of community lynchpin.

Growing up in Tower Hamlets I see and understand the pressures people face. It’s part of the reason why it’s so important for me to give back. Recently, a young boy’s father passed away. His father was an alcoholic and only in his late 30s, early 40s. The son comes to my barbershop every week for a haircut. At 15 I know he doesn’t attend school regularly and now with his father passing, it’s triggers like these that can alter young minds.

I remember being 14 and an older guy from the area tried to rob me. He knew I lived in the area and said to me one day, ‘we’re going to your house to get some money’. He forced me into his car and I remember being panicked. As we drove I led him in the wrong direction and when we got out of the car I ran away. So today, when I see young people behaving in a certain way or if I learn things have happened to someone that may affect them negatively, I approach them from a place of experience and understanding. I spend time speaking to them. My own experiences have taught me to respect others and to take the time to listen. Everyone is important.

As the owner of a barbershop it’s my responsibility to guide and nurture my employees. One of them lives locally and he’s got his own inspiring story. That’s what I love about this community. People rise from their pressures. He was in jail but turned his life around. He’s a top guy. Sometimes you can fall into difficult situations but these do not define who you are. He’s a different person from the one who went to jail. Today he’s married, with a baby and a great barber. When I speak to him and others like him – I’m not here to judge.

I’ve learned that life is about experiences and you can learn from your mistakes. It’s powerful to believe in yourself and know that you can become anything you want. You must trust the process and remember that nothing happens overnight.  Sacrifice and determination are needed.

"I’ve learned that life is about experiences and you can learn from your mistakes. It’s powerful to believe in yourself and know that you can become anything you want. You must trust the process and remember that nothing happens overnight.  Sacrifice and determination are needed". Leon, Digibarber