Former EDL Member Transformed By An Unlikely Friendship | A Tattoo To Change Your Life

I was in the EDL
from 2009 till 2014. I blame myself. I made the wrong decisions and now I’m having to put them
decisions right to help other people, to prevent
them making them decisions. I think everyone has the ability
to change their life around and deserves a chance to be able
to turn their life around. Come on through, Ivan.
Right, thank you. Take a seat. I want something positive. OK. Because I was in the EDL for
five years, so I got this tattoo. Now, I don’t really want
that one covered up because I look at that and see how
far I’ve come from my new journey, so I want something that resembles
positivity, the new me. I was a bit lonely, I guess,
a bit withdrawn. I was bringing up
two kids on me own. And seeing friends in town,
I sort of, like, distanced myself because I was staying in,
looking after the kids. So when I first got my Facebook
years ago, that was my social life. So that’s when I found a voice
and how I found friends. And…when I found my voice
with the EDL, I sort of… I found
somewhere where I belong. YELLING I turned proper anti-Islam. I just thought all the immigrants were just coming here to
take our jobs. What I was good at was finding
the stories that made people angry
cos…it was easy. It’s hard to explain the rush you
get, it’s like the drug of choice. When I done my first demonstration,
it was… The atmosphere,
it was like in a football awayday with your mates
and the atmosphere was good. I can’t really describe it,
it’s just one of them feelings that you don’t
sort of forget either. Something changed inside me
that I just couldn’t do it no more, if you know what I mean. What’s it going to be like looking
at you arm with no hair on it, mate? That’s what I’m thinking.
It’s going to be weird. When I first heard about
Ivan’s story, I was interested. It’s definitely a topic
that is currently everywhere and I wanted to know more about him. It will grow back, I promise.
That’s all right, it’s cool. The tattoo I’m going to get
is going to be a positive one. Just a few words on my arm. “There’s more that brings us
together than divides us.” That’s my story in a nutshell. You feel dizzy, light-headed,
let me know. Scream and shout if it makes you
feel better. But don’t move. No, I won’t. Ready to ink it up? MUSIC: Heavy Young Heathens
by Mulholland Drive So what started to change my mind
was I was shopping in Norwich with my kids and I see a couple of
Muslim women with headscarves on and from the town I’m from,
we didn’t really see that. So, a bit intrigued, I guess.
I followed them up some stairs, they went into a room. I knocked on the window,
and everybody looked round, and then this Muslim man
came out and… ..sort of said,
what was I doing there? I sort of said,
“Well, I’m English Defence League. “Maybe I think I’d like to have
a chat with you about a few things.” He challenged my views, he gave me
another way to look at things. Instead of looking down
the blinkered view I had, he gave me a bit of
the bigger picture to look at. We just agreed to meet
and have coffee for a couple of hours
every two weeks. And slowly, after talking
for a while, that’s when it got a bit scary, cos I started
finding common ground with him. Yeah. And when you find
a common ground, sort of trust and friendships form,
so then I was… It was a bit weird for me back then.
Yeah. And it was a bit surreal, yeah. It was a big choice to leave because
that is everything I wanted. Five years ago, that was everything. I found myself, when I left,
I found myself back at square one, at home with the kids. Not really their fam…friends
kind of thing any more, because when you leave
an organisation like that, a lot of people turn against you
cos they think you’re leaving for… Especially with me, with talking
to Muslims, you can understand that people were a bit confused
with why I was leaving, but I understood, and went going,
hey, once you take responsibility for yourself, life changes. Stop blaming people and you can
change, maybe you can make a change. Definitely. Right, Ivan, we are all done.
Just going to finish wiping it off and then we will get you up and you
can have a look at it in the mirror. Wow. There you go. See, that’s where I was.
This is where I am now. So my tattoos have actually
got meaning now. My work nowadays is just giving
talks about my story, preventing people making
the mistakes I did and talking about all forms of
extremism and the groups involved. Sending a positive message. Coming out of the movement, you’ve sort of hardened up
your heart a bit and now meeting the people,
talking to people, I’ve got a heart again now. My heart’s softened up. I have feelings now,
do you know what I mean? Where I suppose I blocked
a lot of feeling out… ..because I didn’t think I deserved
to be happy or didn’t deserve this. Now I’m starting
to believe in myself. And that’s the best bit, is
once you believe in yourself, anything’s possible.

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