Gina Moffatt stands proudly behind the new counter, serving fresh coffee and tea to a group of Tottenham residents and 639 businesses. Gina, from Tottenham, now runs two cafés and her own florists. But nine years ago, her life was very different.
Growing up in Tottenham, Gina found herself moving in the wrong circles. She was sentenced to six years in London’s Holloway Prison after becoming involved with a drugs dealer.
"I thought he was my knight in shining armour," recalls Gina, 34. "But he was grooming me for what he wanted."
"I was ashamed. I never thought I’d go to prison – that was for murderers, not girls like me," she says.
Gina vowed to turn her life around and soon became a model prisoner. She did an NVQ qualification in Modern Retail Floristry and gained a distinction. She started her own shop within the prison, employing fellow prisoners to help with the demand of over 500 female inmates.
"There were hundreds of women with birthdays and anniversaries, and so my floristry – Blooming Scent – was born," she explains.
She was freed after serving four years, and with the Trust’s help, she was referred to the London Youth Support Trust.
LYST found Gina a unit at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre near her home in Tottenham after her release in February 2008. She secured a loan to start up her floristry business, was encouraged by LYST mentors to open the Blooming Scent Cafe.
“I don’t know where I’d be without LYST. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They’re like family.” Gina says.
Now, two years later, Gina has successfully expanded her café business to the second ‘Blooming Scent’ café in 639. She has gone from strength to strength, becoming a hub for the community.