On World Suicide Prevention Day and the 5th anniversary of The Lions Barber Collective (LBC) we spoke to Award Winning Barber, Founder of LBC and British Beauty Council Advisory Board Member, Tom Chapman about the great work The Lions Barber Collective is doing on suicide prevention and their new course, BarberTalk.
The Lions Barber Collective is an international collection of top barbers that have come together to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide. How did the concept of The Lion Barber Collective start?
The LBC started as a one-off project where I gathered a group of barbers to create a look book of men’s haircut images to raise money for charity. When deciding which charities to donate to, one of the barbers suggested suicide prevention. That was a real eye-opener for me because I didn’t realise you could raise money or that there were suicide prevention charities. Considering that I had lost a close friend to suicide, just the year before this was a big shock to myself, how many people out there had lost somebody over suffering and didn’t know where to turn.
I very quickly realised there’s more to this than a one-off project and that hairdressers and barbers have an amazing position of trust within their communities. It has been joked about forever that we are our client’s therapist or psychiatrist. This realisation led to the idea of another bespoke training program for those inherent in the beauty world. Which led to me working alongside lead psychiatrists, including former psychiatrist of the year, Pete Aitken, to develop what is now known as BarberTalk.
2. As you mentioned in your TedX Talk, listening is such a vital skill when it comes to helping save someone’s life. What other steps would you recommend for hair professionals who are concerned about a client’s wellbeing?
Listening is a hugely vital skill, so we have to have the confidence to listen well and most importantly ask the questions that we would often avoid because we’re scared of the answer. Direct questions such as how are you feeling today? And use their name to make it personalised.
Even more importantly, we need to get comfortable with asking the question are you suicidal and do you have a plan? If we suspect that somebody maybe. It is a scary question, but it is the central question to saving lives. Asking about suicide does not cause suicide. Lastly, it is really important to build up a keepsake connection list to keep in your salon or barbershop, so you know where to signpost people to if they are struggling.
3. Alongside the BarberTalk Live program, The Lions Barber Collective also offers BarberTalk Lite, would you be able to explain more about this program?
BarberTalk Lite is a free online change program that will take no longer than 20 minutes and is available on www.LionsBarbercollective.com/barbertalk-lite.
It contains all four pillars of the original training in a short, digestible, easily accessible format that can be accessed by anyone over the globe and has been completed already in Kania, Hawaii, Sydney, Australia and many more. It’ll give you an insight into how to recognise the signs, ask the right questions, listen with empathy and help signpost your clients to the help they need.
4. How can a member of the public support the work that The Lions Barber Collective do?
There are many ways in which a member of the public can help support LBC. Obviously, all the normal ways you can support charities in fundraising donations and awareness, but most importantly tell your hairdresser or Barber about us and get them to take the training. Even if it is just BarberTalk Lite, it really will help make a difference to many.
You can find out more about The Lions Barber Collective and fantastic courses and training they provide here: https://www.thelionsbarbercollective.com/