Mental Health Awareness Day: Oli x Haircuts 4 Homeless
“I saw a rise in homelessness in the area I was living and seeing young men not too far off my age on the streets, needing help. I didn’t have much myself to give but I had my time and my trade. So I did my research and found an amazing person, Stewart Roberts with an amazing charity; Haircuts 4 Homeless I worked once a month, at the same time and place for about four hours. The team would be cutting, trimming, styling men and women both young and old pretty much the whole four hours sometimes up to 20-30 people. Stewart has set up over 40 locations around the UK and Ireland and even did a session in New York. These groups are self-sufficient and just require a small amount of time from the volunteers but give so much back to the people who we service. Not only a haircut but someone familiar in their lives that they see regularly and chat about football, dating and even Brexit.
It’s daunting the first time you walk in and see the vast amount of men and women that have nowhere to go “home” to. But the stigma literally falls away like the hair from the first snip, there’s a person here in my chair, who is no different to me. We all want to look great, we all want to feel great. By no means is a haircut going to get someone off the streets but at least for that short time they can feel somewhat “normal” and look clean and sharp until the next cut.
The group in Whitechapel has grown to 6 stylists from all abilities. Since my baby, I’ve had less free time, but what I’ve started with Stewart now is a small team up with Blue Tit and getting another London one that any of our blue tit stylists and even assistants can get involved in.
I’ve learnt so much from Stewart and H4H, it really puts things into perspective for me and has made me realise how important even self-care on the outside is for mental health, being noticed, talked to, even touched by someone without them grimacing means so much.
If you can only do one thing when you next see a homeless person, just smile and say hello, you might be the only person to that day 😊”