An ex-offender dedicated to helping struggling young people after turning his own life around has shared his experience of growing up without a dad, and its profound impact, in a bid to help others.

Stevenage dad Dan Gaze had a troubled childhood and was expelled from school at just nine years old, and later expelled from secondary school.

In 2002, he got into a fight and served seven months in prison for actual bodily harm.

Since then, Dan has turned his life around, dedicated to helping struggling young people learn and grow from their mistakes.

In 2020, he left his job as an assistant headteacher to set up the Dan Gaze Support Service. Working with schools, Dan mentors young people in Shefford, Hitchin and Stevenage, and has won several awards for his work, including Pride of Stevenage.

Now, in a bid to reach out to young people who are perhaps struggling without a father figure in their lives, Dan explains: "When I started school, everyone had two parents and I was always very confused about why I didn't have two parents.

"At school - junior and secondary - I really did struggle with authority, especially from males, and also sometimes didn't show much respect to females. I think I was having an identity crisis - of who I was and where I came from.

"I found myself feeling like a bit of a lone wolf - someone who survives on his own name, someone who went out and did what he wanted to do, and it was a very difficult time.

"I found myself looking for love in so many weird places and looking for support in strange places.

"I got into boxing and I started doing door work and bodyguarding at such a young age of 16. I found myself working for some of the biggest doors in London, around Uxbridge, and also looking after some of the biggest UK garage acts in the music industry at the time.

"Unfortunately, without any role models in life, apart from my granddad, who was always great and supported me, I was struggling to find out who I was and I was trying to impress the wrong people.

"I got myself into a lot of fights and ended up going to prison in 2002. I did 18 months in prison for ABH.

"When I came home, I wanted to work with young people, so I started to train as a youth worker and then built myself up and became assistant head of a school.

"Even with such achievements, I struggled. I still looked around to find out who I was and where I'd come from.

"Now, I'm a dad-of-two. I show them love, support and care in everything they do.

"I challenge anyone who is a stepdad, dad or just an adult in someone's life to be a listening ear to young people. Listen to them and support them and help them on their journey."