“Whatever the causes of an individual’s homelessness, the consequences can be brutal. Homelessness damages people’s capability: they lose skills; they can’t think about employment while worrying about housing; their health becomes impaired due to being homeless. It knocks their resilience, self-esteem and self-confidence.”Stewart Roberts, Founder H4H.
I think about homelessness all year round but it’s always this time of year when the weather starts getting colder, right up until the cold temperatures break in early spring, I find myself thinking about people on the streets more.
Since I started working in central London over a year ago, I’ve noticed how bad and extensive the homelessness issues are around Leicester Square, Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road and other central areas.
In the past I’ve often stopped when I pass someone on the streets to ask if they need a hot drink or something from the supermarket. However, since working in Leicester Square full time and seeing people on pavements daily, it’s become harder and harder to do that as there are too many who need help, every single day, almost on every corner. It’s a very depressing situation.
Becoming immune to the issues is not where I want to be as I’ve always tried to help in some way or other.
A few years ago I spent some time doing weekly volunteer session at St. Mungo’s Recovery College in London, delivering workshops on blogging and social media for those recovering from substance abuse/misuse, homelessness and others from local disadvantaged communities. Many found it useful to have an outlet where they could express themselves freely and creatively. I no longer do the sessions but I’m still a monthly donation supporter of the charity.
Recently a charity donation card machine was put in our office’s entrance, which is a super easy way to tap and give £3, which I believe goes to a local homelessness charity. Knowing many of us at work feel so helpless in face of the problems on our doorstep, it’s the least we can do to contribute some support.
We also have a few Big Issue vendors in and around Leicester Square so that’s another way I encourage people to help. Homelessness isn’t just about rough sleepers, it can also be people and families in temporary accommodation, without a permanent home or fixed address, which can be highly stressful.
So I when I heard about Haircuts4Homeless I immediately wanted to write about it. Set up in 2014 by hairdresser Stewart Roberts, it’s a UK-wide charity and community of hairdressers who volunteer a few hours of their time each month to give haircuts for homeless people. The charity now operates in 49 locations around the country with over 600 volunteers nationwide, delivering 300 free haircuts a year from each location – how amazing is that?
Watch this lovely little video that sums up why this service is so important and what it means to people suffering from homelessness.
It really is more than ‘just a haircut’; it’s about respect, kindness, self-worth and humanity. Showing any kindness makes a homeless person (or any human) know that people really care.
“I wanted to get involved because Haircuts4Homeless is so much more than just giving a homeless person a haircut. It’s about people’s state of mind, helping to give them a sense of purpose again and wellbeing. Sometimes these people don’t talk to anybody properly for days/weeks and because mental health is so close to my heart as a subject, if I can help to start lifting somebody’s mental state by giving them a haircut and a chat, it’s the least I can do.”Neil Moodie, Editorial Hairstylist