Every hairdresser chats with his customers and listens to their thoughts, feelings, and stories. However, this is something different. This hairdresser offers free haircuts to homeless people, connects with them and hears their stories to make them feel better.
An American actress Joan Crawford once said,
“I think that the most important thing a woman can have- next to talent, of course- is her hairdresser.”
She is right! But I believe why only women, the quote should go as,
“I think that the most important thing a human can have- next to talent, of course- is their hairdresser.”
And, one kind hairdresser proved this true and that too for a good cause. Yes, here we are talking about ‘Joshua Coombes’ who is a hairdresser from London and offers free haircuts to homeless people living a hard life and most importantly he is asking with nothing in return. He is one selfless young hairdresser from London who gives free haircuts to the homeless on his days off.
Shocking, right? But it’s true! He does go out into the streets of Britain's capital, trimming hair and cutting beards to give them amazing transformations.
More importantly, he not only gives the hair cuts to them but also communicates to the people he helps, listens to their struggles and life stories as well as experiences, and also he offers them the all-important human contact that many people living on streets miss out.
There is no doubt that people are already aware that the issue of homelessness is a huge problem. Also, everyone is informed that countless souls live on the streets, but Joshua’s movement is all about raising compassion, not awareness.
Also, the hairdresser seeks the permission of these people before sharing their story on Instagram using the hashtag ‘Do Something For Nothing’ after he’s finished cutting someone’s hair.
Look at one example he shared on Instagram:
“This is Chris.
He was in a bad way when I first met him. A friend of his had passed away just a few weeks before… Sadly, his friend was one of 50 homeless people who died on streets in Greater Manchester last year.
Chris was in the army for years. He spoke a bit about that. “Things have changed a lot since then… I suffered with PTSD for a while afterwards. I didn’t know what to do with myself when that period of time ended. Well, anyway…here I am.”
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I just arrived in Manchester this evening for @lightnoiseart exhibition tomorrow evening and I’ve been thinking about the last time I was here. This is Chris. He was in a bad way when I first met him. A friend of his had passed away just a few weeks before... Sadly, his friend was one of 50 homeless people who died on streets in Greater Manchester last year. Chris was in the army for years. He spoke a bit about that. “Things have changed a lot since then... I suffered with PTSD for a while afterwards. I didn’t know what to do with myself when that period of time ended. Well, anyway...here I am. I cut Chris’s hair in an alleyway away from the noise of the city centre nearby. It was nice to share those moments together before he had to run on to an appointment. Before we left, I asked Chris his message: “Have a little bit of love..spread it as much as you can...do you know what I mean? We’re all in this together. We all came into this world the same way...we’ll all go out the same way. We all end up in the same sized fucking box.”. I’d love to see anyone in Manchester at our event tomorrow. Free entry. All welcome. 6pm - 9pm at @theyard_mcr (Link in bio) It’s important to find new ways of telling the story of people like Chris to create a change. I believe in art and expression to do so. #DoSomethingForNothing
Some more examples are:
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Whilst in Paris recently, I walked back to the same street where I once visited my late friend, Cedric. I always go back to this spot when I’m in the city. One street away from where he used to sleep, I met Florin. Florin came to Paris from Romania late last year. He’s worked in construction jobs for most of his life, but recently, steady employment became difficult, so he left for job opportunities elsewhere. He only spoke a small amount of English. But thankfully, one of Jaz’s (@theworldwidetribe) good friends, Joanna, is Romanian, so she help us communicate over the phone. When Florin came to Paris, things took an unexpected turn... He experienced a stroke that left him in hospital for a week. When he woke, Florin no longer had his passport or phone with him and had no memory of what happened... Without his documents, He had no way to travel back home so began sleeping on the streets... When we met Florin, he was waiting for an appointment with the Embassy of Romania and was in limbo for the foreseeable. Florin told us what makes him happy in life. It was was so good to meet that day. His warmth really shone through as we spent more time together. So much so that he insisted that we visit him in Romania when he manages to get back there. One realistic goal we can all have is to be more aware and present for those around us who might feel isolated. I saw the difference it made in Florin that someone noticed him and listened. Nothing should get in the way of the connection you can make with another human being and the potential is has to help them and, in turn, help yourself. #DoSomethingForNothing
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Yesterday, I ran into Mathew again. We first met in the summer of 2017 in a park not far from this spot, in Central London. Mathew’s been away for a while since we last saw one another. He had his head down but I recognised him. Mathew - “Yeh, I remember - You cut my hair! And for my friend Luke also. It was summer wasn’t it..? I haven’t seen Luke for ages. We were really close. I miss him. He just disappeared one day about a year ago and I have no idea where he is… I find it difficult to get close to people. There’s nobody in particular that I reach out speak with. Things are up and down. Some days are worse than others. The small things that happen each day can help though… Like, I know I’m not all that approachable. I’ve never been very confident socially. But, when people do take the time to have a conversation, it means something. Everyone needs different things in their life. But having someone to listen to you is important for everybody.” #DoSomethingForNothing
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I’ll never stop opening my heart to new people... A stranger who became a brother to me. Cedric died last year, aged 45. I’m forever grateful for the connection we shared. I first met Cedric in Paris in 2017. At the time, he’d been sleeping on the street for three years. He had a handwritten sign - ‘Vote for me in 2020’ - As soon as I said hello, a big smile appeared. An hour later, I’m handing Cedric the mirror to see his new hairdo. We hung out all day there, listening to punk music and swapping stories. Here’s some of Cedric’s words - “I lived in London for some years with my girlfriend. I remember the carnivals so well, I loved my time there. I wanted to stay in London, but when my girlfriend and I broke up, I came back to Paris. That’s when things went downhill… I had a job at a library. It didn’t pay much but I enjoyed it. One day, I found out the library was closing. We lost our jobs. The rent on my place had already gone up. I started drinking more. I can see now I was depressed...I stopped caring. It wasn’t long before I spent my first night outside. A few months later, I visited Cedric again. After a big hug, I noticed Cedric had a black eye - "There’s so many good people in the day, but at night it can change...There's a bar over there that stays open really late. There was a fight with two men and a woman. It's my fault for saying something, when I did, I got punched.” Cedric had a meeting for some help to get into a room a few days prior. He attended but didn't hear back - "I'm trying and always listening for places, it's not easy. Any weeks with a step forward usually comes with more steps back. I never planned to be here...I hope one day there is another chapter. The third time I visited was different. A mural, painted by the amazing @christianguemy for a beautiful soul, no longer with us. I'm going to continue to make people visible the best I can. I know Cédric would have liked that he played a big part in giving others light also. Making mistakes is human. I don’t forget that. I've seen how love can change people. Listen to The Clash and keep dancing my brother. #DoSomethingForNothing
Not only he is sharing the stories of homeless people, but with these stories, he is trying to convey a message that like all people, they have a story and a history which led them into these situations.
While talking about the movement in an interview with UNILAD, the 31-year-old said,
“For me, it’s not about whether someone’s deserving or undeserving. We’re all human, we all make mistakes.
It’s about trying to get rid of that thick layer of the stigma that surrounds people who live on the streets in most cities and painting it literally in a new color, which is not just statistics.”
His movement Do Something For Nothing (DSFN) urges people to understand the fact that when it comes to people living on the streets, there is no ‘us and them’ and that a moment of kindness can go a long way.
Also, the hairdresser explained how the movement is not so much about the haircuts but about the time he spends talking with those who are often completely ignored or lonely. He not only transforms his customers by giving them a new look but also tried to give them moments of happiness by talking.
Later he said in the interview,
“These are people who I see myself in, and as I started to tell these stories to others I realised how much it impacted, and how many people wanted to know more about the people I was meeting.
The hashtag was DSFN because it’s not really about haircuts for homeless as such, it’s more about the time and conversation that I share with someone.
They’re the moments that are most important to all of us really, at the end of the day they’re what we share with one another.
Some people I go back and visit, and sometimes I just meet them that one time, but for me each of those is as important as the other, whether it ends with big smiles or just a nod of appreciation.”
After that, Joshua also explained how the movement evolved. He said,
“The more I carried on doing it I saw other people join in, and it just kind of progressed. Now, this is all I do, and each week it’s about finding new ways to tell those stories and get other people involved.
A lot of people are compassionate towards homelessness, but it’s all about how we can make the idea more accessible to everyone.”
As Joshua was already doing a lot for his movement ‘Do Something For Nothing’ and it already continued to grow, last year Joshua with his longtime friend (artist Jamie) decided to choose some other way to spread the stories of homeless people.
So, for that, both took a trip to Skid Row in Los Angeles where the count of homeless people is quite high. So there they both initiated the process and started working as a team. Under that, Joshua gave haircuts, and artist Jamie would take photos to paint portraits of those they had spent time with further. Then they sublet a gallery space and displayed the artwork in a show called ‘Light and Noise.’ All of this effort they have put is in the hopes of building a bridge between the visitors and homeless from other parts of LA.
Joshua described the show in more detail and said,
“It was called Light and Noise because we believe we can all shine a light and make some noise. Even if we don’t know the solution I think it’s okay to be an amplifier.
We try to give isolated people more importance.”
Well, it does not end here as they both organized four more Light and Noise events in Amsterdam, Manchester, Berlin, and Paris.
Meanwhile, the hairdresser collaborated with TOMS. About the partnership, he said,
“It has been fantastic working alongside a brand like TOMS that actively incites social change. We have worked so closely to bring about further awareness of the problem of homelessness in our cities – an issue I’m very passionate about and hope to improve through giving greater visibility to the mainstream.
We can all positively impact the world – even with something as small as a haircut.”
All we can say is movements like Do Something For Nothing and Light and Noise are both incredibly uplifting. Both of the movements allow the faces of those who often go unnoticed to be projected and make a point that when it comes to people living on the streets, there is more than meets the eye.
Also, hats off to the hairdresser who started such movement which is surely inspiring everyone. It makes us believe that we all should do something for nothing and also spread some compassion.
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