Our affiliate, Haircuts4Homeless, is celebrating five years of hairdressers rebuilding the resilience, confidence and self-worth of people on the streets.
Haircuts4Homeless is a registered charity set up by veteran hairdresser Stewart Roberts. Inspired by the actions of hairdressers in various parts of the world cutting hair for the homeless, Stewart set out not only to do this his self but to build a whole community of skilled hairdresser volunteers who give their time free of charge to give haircuts for homeless people.
We spotted a great article in Marie Claire, by Lisa Oxenham about the inspiring journey of Stewart Roberts and how he came to build the charity, Haircuts4Homeless.
“Stewart Roberts is a hairdresser from Essex and knows only too well the issues facing people dealing with homelessness coupled with substance abuse.
‘I’m 13 years sober and have been volunteering with alcoholics and drug addicts for the last ten years,’ he says. ‘I used to attend a weekly support group at my local Salvation Army in Romford.’
After seeing a video on social media of a man giving haircuts to people living on the streets of New York, Roberts decided to take his own scissors to his support centre, the Salvation Army and do the same for whoever was waiting for a meal. The response was incredible.
He offered to cut hair in other centres and shelters and took hairdresser friends who wanted to help along with him. Then in 2014 Roberts launched Haircuts4Homeless, now a registered charity and one you can find on Virgin Giving (which means anyone can raise money for them through sponsorship). The industry is known for its willingness to help people, so I knew that many hairdressers would be happy to give their time and expertise.
The H4H community has now grown to 600 skilled volunteers working in 63 UK locations.
‘The more places we visit the more I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem. I feel suffocated sometimes because homelessness is growing more and more, year on year. I have to remember that I can only do so much and what I do is still better than just walking past,’ he says.
To date Haircuts4Homeless has issued over 40,000 free haircuts to rough sleepers all around the country.
Being homeless can have a devastating effect on a person’s self-esteem and, with daily challenges to navigate and financial worries, having a haircut is a luxury that is out of reach of many, which is where Haircuts4Homeless offer a much-needed boost.
‘We’re about giving these people respect and to show someone cares because they don’t get a lot of that. Some people just come in for a big hug.’
Roberts knows his initiative won’t lower the number of people sleeping rough on the streets but he’s going a long way to changing people’s attitudes towards them. And more importantly Roberts and his army of hairdressers are giving back dignity and self-esteem to the people who need it most.” – Lisa Oxenham from Marie Claire.
Photo Credit : Marie Claire