New social enterprise opens at South Shields Transport Interchange

HoodEx founder Ricky Gleeson with his new social enterprise business at South Shields Interchange
16 January 2024

A new social enterprise selling quality vintage sportswear at affordable prices to support and provide training to vulnerable young people has opened its doors at South Shields Transport Interchange. 

The HoodEx shop was the brainchild of a reformed offender and serving soldier, Ricky Gleeson, who wanted to create a business with a strong social value.

Ricky started the company to support young ex-offenders and people at risk of offending, inspired by his own life experiences of crime, homelessness and drug abuse.

Now a reformed character, he began with a stall at South Shields Market, but he has seen a dream come true after expanding the venture into the vacant unit at the town’s transport interchange. 

Through the HoodEx brand, which repurposes used clothing for resale, Ricky aims to make a living and use a percentage of the proceeds to support young people, steering them away from trouble and into sports. 

Volunteers get support with fitness training with fully licensed PTI’s, wellness sessions, driving lessons, help with obtaining ID such as passports, healthy food, travel expenses and further bespoke support designed to get them into full-time paid employment.

Ricky, 46, of South Tyneside, said: “It’s a huge moment for me to be able to move into my own shop. I’m really proud. I want to thank the team at Nexus for being so accommodating. 

“I really needed a unit to take the business to the next level, and the empty shop at South Shields Interchange was an ideal location for me.

“A lot of hard work has gone in to getting to this point and I’m so excited that I’ve managed to get the place up and running. 

“HoodEx is a community interest company. We sell repurposed quality clothing at affordable prices, and a percentage of the money from that is used to benefit the community. In this case it goes towards supporting young offenders and those who could be at risk of offending. 

“This can be support with fitness training and gym memberships, and other things like travelling expenses and driving lessons. A big part of what we do is supporting young people to get more exercise, particularly boxing training, which is a really great way to steer young people away from bother. It’s something that was a big help to me when I was younger.”

He added: “I’ve taken inspiration for this venture from my own previous struggles when I was younger, when I found myself lured into a world of petty crime, which led to a few spells behind bars. 

“I’ve also been homeless and used to sell the Big Issue in Newcastle city centre. I’ve since turned my life around following twelve years in the Royal Navy. Now HoodEx is my way of helping others avoid making the mistakes that I made.”

James Parkinson, Head of Corporate Contracting and Commercial Income at Nexus, said: “The HoodEx social enterprise is an excellent new addition at South Shields Transport Interchange. It’s a fantastic project which is going to help a lot of local young people in our region.

“It’s been great to work with HoodEx to help them turn their ideas into reality. We’re always seeking to work with organisations that are looking for premises and would encourage anyone who thinks a Metro Station could be a suitable base to get in touch with us.”

Ricky splits his time between running HoodEx and a job in the British Army as a military guard. 

Find out more about retail units on the Tyne and Wear Metro at Retail units | nexus.org.uk

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HoodEx founder Ricky Gleeson

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