The Zenoti Foundation helps businesses and individuals in the beauty and wellness industry and we’re proud to assist Haircuts4Homeless, as part of our community engagement initiative, as they carry out their mission to spread kindness and haircuts to everyone.
We spoke with Stewart Roberts, founder of Haircuts4Homeless, to discover the story behind the charity. Here’s what he had to say...
1. Haircuts4Homeless was founded for such an incredible cause, tell us a little about the journey so far...
Haircuts4Homeless was started by accident in November 2014. I was volunteering at a Salvation Army in Essex, talking to people about addictions as I am 15 years sober myself, and saw the homeless guys coming in for something to eat.
I had recently seen a guy on Facebook doing makeovers on homeless people on the street so thought I’ll bring my scissors to the next session and give some haircuts.
Little did I know it would change my life. I soon realized that it was much more than a haircut that we were giving. It’s about respect, connection, touch and communication.
I put some pictures on Facebook and soon some hairdressers said they would like to help, and other centers said they would like us to come. Now we have 70 projects across the UK & Ireland, 600 volunteers and have given over 40,000 haircuts.
2. Why is what you’re doing important?
There is something special about any profession that lays hands on people. Human touch instantly breaks down barriers, particularly in these disconnected times. We are talking about people who frequently say they feel invisible and lonely, so for someone to touch them and have a conversation means the world and is a really beautiful thing to witness.
After being a guest on a few podcasts to talk about Haircuts4Homeless, it occurred to me that I have met so many wonderful people in my time with the charity that I should start my own, primarily to highlight some of the work of the unsung heroes who I meet.
It’s called “Hear Me, See Me.” and is available through Acast and on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and Amazon Music.
I have been fortunate enough to have had some amazing guests including Game of Thrones star, Lena Headey, the Duchess of York, Meg Mathews, Bella Freud, Sam McKnight and also some amazing unsung heroes who work in homeless centers. Most recently I have done a week of podcasts featuring some amazing women who have survived domestic violence and abuse who are an inspiration.
3. You were able to get back out into the community once the UK lockdown ended - how has that been so far?
Once lockdown lifted on April 12th, we were able to get out to our projects and it was such a relief. COVID has had such a devastating effect on the homeless community with illness, displacement and even death but they are a resilient lot and really stand together.
It’s not until something is taken away that we realize how important it is, and for me personally, I know even more how important Haircuts4Homeless is. Our first trip was to the amazing Whitechapel Mission in London, and it was such an emotional reunion for everyone involved.
Michael sat in my chair first and he hadn’t had a haircut in months. He had a great head of thick grey hair and the hairdresser in me wanted to restyle it. I gave him some options, but he said he really wanted it cut off and to feel clean.
We then had two days in the north of England in Manchester and Sheffield. We met some amazing people including Andrew. His make-over was amazing. He not only looked like a different person, but his whole demeanor changed and he held himself better. When he left the room and went to the common room we heard everyone clapping and cheering. What a wonderful sound.
4. What difference do sponsors, such as the Zenoti Foundation, make?
Sponsors, such as Zenoti, are so crucial to charities like ours. With such little funding coming from government, sponsors not only provide much needed funds but also support and help in many other ways.
We are determined to reopen and support our existing projects during the rest of 2021 and then embark on a full expansion in 2022. For anyone wanting to get involved in any way please email us on email@example.com.