The Chronicle Gambia

Feature – U.K Gambian Barber Gives Hope to his Portsmouth Young Apprentices

A new barbershop in Southsea, a popular resort with seafront gardens, and a long beach in Portsmouth is offering more than just haircuts. Life Changer Trims has launched an apprenticeship scheme to help young people learn new skills and keep them out of trouble.

36-year-old, born and raised in the Gambia, August Joseph John, the founder of the business on Fawcett Road, a father himself, said he wants to teach young people skills that could help them carve a career path and broaden their future options.

He worked in barbershops for many years before setting up his own business on-premises that used to be a women’s clothing store. August Joseph John said: ‘I opened this shop to give the young ones opportunities to learn and to stop them from causing trouble on the streets. I know how it feels so I just want to motivate the kids to learn and earn money.

He said: ‘I want the kids to learn from me because it’s not easy. The main thing is to give them the opportunity to learn something and have a job.’

August Joseph John, owner of the Life Changer Trims barbershop cutting a client’s hair in his barbershop. Picture by Mable Nsingo

One apprentice who works for Life Changer Trims, Dilpreet Singh, said: ‘Education isn’t really for everyone. I feel like some people learn the best when they do something, and I think apprenticeships are the best for that.

The 21-year-old, who enjoys the practical style of learning Mr. John offers, shared how working in the shop has taught him about the practicalities of being a barber while improving his social skills and ability to communicate with people from various backgrounds.

The apprentice of Jubilee Road said: ‘It’s enjoyable, you get people from all different walks of life coming through the shop. You learn a lot. I don’t fully know about how I want to go about the rest of my life, but this is definitely an option for me now.

In addition to helping young people in the local community find work, Mr. John has also attracted famous customers into his shop, including footballers Anton Walkes and Jamal Lowe.

The entrepreneurial barber has also spent the pandemic planning to re-open his shop on new premises, which opened two months ago.

One of his new innovative ideas is using a face steamer treatment given to all customers, which he hopes will act as a unique selling point for his business.

Mr. John, who lives in Fratton, hopes the improvements will provide a much-needed boost after months of lockdowns.

The shop is operating a booking system, where appointments can be booked online. It also offers walk-in appointments based on availability.

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