Bow beauty salon shows its charitable side

A hair and beauty academy in Bow is showing that a little part of the “Big Society” is already alive and kicking.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s vision of Britain sees volunteers and charities playing a greater role in public life and the provision of services and the East London Academy of Hair and Beauty can be taken as a leading example.

Run as a social enterprise and a working professional salon, the Blackthorn Street academy offers free courses to disadvantaged people to help them find future work.

Michelle Sapiano, 34, said: “I’d say that on average about 80 per cent of the people studying here do so for free.

“I set it up in 2006 because I believed, and still do, that there is a real need for this type of training opportunity .

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“Not all students are given an equal opportunity to gain a qualification.”

The self-sufficient academy, which takes revenue from its professional services to fund training, offers level one to three NVQs in hair and beauty techniques from hair colouring to depilations to non-surgical face-lifts.

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People who are unemployed or who are in economic hardship will qualify for free training

Ms Sapiano said: “On the whole, we will take someone’s proof of benefits and judge it on that.

“If there are special circumstances, such as someone being a victim of domestic violence or if they have a sick child, we would also take that into account and try to help them.”

With 150 students at the moment, the academy is also bucking the trend of struggling social enterprises by actively seeking larger premises.

Ms Sapiano said: “The beauty industry is booming so a lot of people want to jump into this training – we get nurses, ex-office workers, all thinking of a change of career.”

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