Sam Wall Unsung Hero
Against The Odds
More Than… Haircuts 4 Homeless
Sam Wall Unsung Hero
Since this Paul has campaigned with the hospital (The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Essex) to improve their Mental Health strategy. Paul has convinced them that they need to take mental health as seriously as physical health in all areas of the hospital, from admission to discharge, and beyond. This has led to a full review of the hospital’s clinical mental health strategy and Paul and I have attended 3 meetings to help form the new strategy. This strategy is currently being worked on, when completed we have been asked to review and attend further meetings to discuss.
As a result of the above Paul has met with members of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Systems, and has attended meetings discussing Suicide Prevention, from this is is likely the Lions Barber collective will be asked to run a pop up barbershop. Paul is currently awaiting further details.
Paul is also involved with the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Systems forming a Suicide Bereavement Service, which will not only offer emotional support but advice on attending coroners hearings and other matter that those bereaved by suicide will likely need to go through.
After the death of Paul’s parents he purchased a barber shop in Warwick. He is committed to making this a safe space for anyone who wants to come in for a hair cut and chat. He has already had people say they were recommended the shop because of the welcoming atmosphere, and has clients open up to him about their mental health. In the new year Paul plans to start drop in nights at the shop where anyone can come by for a chat in a safe space.
I couldn’t be prouder of Paul, having taken a truly devastating tragedy and using to try and help others with his goal being for other families to never have to go through what we have.
Against the Odds
Tyler Gray is an outstanding member of Hair@theAcademy team. Battling with anxiety and mental health issues, Tyler enrolled at Hair@theAcademy on level 2 award in the hair and beauty sector aged just 15 and has never left!
Five years on, through 1:1 training, ongoing care, and support, he’s developed into a confident young man. Working at the academy as a tutor, he wants to give back to help students achieve their goals. He’s also a part-time carer at a special needs home for adults. In recognition of his remarkable achievements and to inspire students to strive to be the best they can be, Tyler’s been awarded the academy’s first-ever ‘Ambassador of Excellence’ accolade.
Mary Pugsley MBE – Director of Hair@theAcademy explains: “Tyler’s a special and extraordinary individual who struggled at mainstream school due to severe mental health conditions. Feeling anxious he spent most days in isolation, or not attending. A background of constant bullying by peers and misunderstood by teachers, left him with lacking in confidence, depressed and lonely. Labelled as the ‘naughty teenager’, the system failed to offer additional learning support, resulting in further deterioration of Tyler’s mental health. Finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), he was recommended to us, where we helped him develop, flourish and blossom. Today he’s a wonderful mentor to other vulnerable young people; his dedication and outstanding accomplishments to change his life for the better has made us all so proud and he’s a perfect role model for our students.
Shortly after starting with the academy, Tyler had to leave on medical grounds and extreme circumstances due to severe mental health problems and low self-esteem. Mary says: “The first few sessions at the salon were incredibly challenging for Tyler and his anxiety made it impossible for him to even walk through the door. I went outside to sit and chat with him, helping him feel comfortable enough to finally go in. We never gave up on Tyler and his mental health improved massively, and his confidence grew as he felt there was truly something to fight for. There were some low points, but the academy team encouraged him to believe “I CAN DO IT’!”
Tyler is an inspirational mentor and loves helping people just like him, and it’s improved his own mental health as he finally has a purpose and feels valued. When Tyler got his Level 2 Diploma and qualified in hairdressing and barbering, he was so excited; he’s now begun his assessor’s qualification and is very much part of the team.
Today Tyler supports a wide range of different learners, helping them through their own incredible journey. He’s an excellent mentor and role model as he empathises with them. He has developed a daily morning dance routine of ‘Express to de-stress’ for the students in the salon which is a great way to deal with mental health issues and an energising start to everyone’s day.
As time passed my boys went from grade 2 all over o now having ral styles. Georgia has takn them to the shop, asked round with them and given them time no other stylist ever has. Georgia has even narly cried with empathy at how to help my children. When one of my sons who is hyper sensitive kissed her she was so emoional. Personally I have had a difficult time coming to terms with the challenges we face. Georgia has since befriended me, contacts me to see How we all are between visits and offers more than just salon services. This is more than a service, this is genuine acceptance and inclusion and has given my twins and I finally a place where we can be ourselves and not fear prejudice or judgement. I personally believe my mental health has improved as a result of us finding Georgia at Society. I am and will be forever grateful for what she has done for us and our special needs community locally and wish more were like Society.
The loud buzz of the clippers, the strong scent of products, the scrape of the comb – all part of getting a haircut. As a barber, I feel everyone deserves to look and feel their best. However, a trip to the salon can be overwhelming for people with sensory processing difficulties.
I use the days my shop is closed to go into the community and help a specialist nursery that works with children with additional needs. Most of the children have non-verbal autism. I spend my time helping to get the children desensitised to the experience of getting their hair cut in a comfortable setting that they feel safe in.
I’ve been working on the sensory aspect of the experience at each visit. This involves spending time to get them used to the equipment, touching the combs and brushes, feeling the water spray mist, and getting familiar with the vibrations of the clippers.
When I’m performing the haircut, it’s all about being patient. It can be a sensory overload for the children, so I make sure to take time with each child and wait when needed, as each child has a different way of processing the experience.
I aim to make this stress free for them, whether this involves me taking one hour or even four if it helps the child to build up an understanding of the experience of getting a haircut. I want them to feel that they had a complete experience of getting a haircut without being judged or discriminated against because of their additional needs.
A parent of one of the children I work with described taking their 4-year-old son to another barber for his first haircut after lockdown as awful and traumatic – but now she knows her son is in calm, respectful hands and it’s a huge relief.
I’ve had the privilege of working with around 10 children so far. Being able to make such a difference to them and their parents is amazing. I feel like I have achieved something special, making these children look fantastic while helping to build their confidence with hair professionals. The time we have spent together will make it easier for each child, as well as helping their parents not suffer from stress and anxiety that their child is going to be judged, on visits to a salon in the future.
Looking ahead, I plan to not only keep this scheme up with the nursery, but I want to expand into other settings to continue to support other children and also adults with additional needs.
More Than… Haircuts 4 Homeless
I started Haircuts4Homeless 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 put some pictures on Facebook and soon some hairdressers said they would like to help and some other centres said they would like us to come and now we have 68 projects across the UK & Ireland, 600 volunteers and have given over 40,000 haircuts.
I soon realised that it was much more than a haircut that we were giving. It’s about respect, connection, touch and communication.
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.” Podcast 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 the homeless centres. Most recently I have done a week of podcasts featuring some amazing women who have survived domestic violence and abuse who are an inspiration.
During my work with Haircuts4Homeless I have met some wonderful people. When you don’t see a regular for a while, you hope they have moved on to better things but when you hear they have passed away it breaks your heart. In this day and age we should be looking after all of society, no matter what their situation.
Lifetime Achievement - Chosen by LBC
Leanne was chosen by Lions Barber collective because of her outstanding contribution to the charity. An extremely busy woman who is an amazing Hair lecturer at Abingdon & Witney college, supporting all of her students and even ensuring they all have the BarberTalk training.
Even though she is a fantastic mum to her two young children Leanne has found the time to become a vital member of the LBC team as a Volunteer, managing all of the other lions volunteers and organising events as well as holding her own events and fundraising. Without Leanne we would not be able to achieve the reach we have done over the past year. She is an inspirational woman who deserves to be celebrated and we hope that she will continue to be such an important part of the charity forever.
Exceptional College - Chosen by LBC
Milton Keynes College
MK college has been putting all their hair students through the BArberTalk lite online training for years and by doing this they are preparing their students for those conversations behind the chair as well as looking after their community.
The team have consistently supported LBC and are even going to be one of the first Lions Academies, meaning a strong partnership between MK College and LBC will grow even further in 2022. Maria at MK has been instrumental in developing a partnership as well as raising awareness and fundraising for LBC. Maria genuinely cares for the students ensuring they will have the best career possible, as well as looking to constantly innovate and create a strong community in the local hair industry. We cannot wait to continue and grow our partnership with this amazing college.
Exceptional Educator - Chosen by LBC
Mary Pugsley MBE
Hair@theAcademy offers work ready qualifications for disadvantaged young people.
Mary really cares, she works tirelessly to give young people and opportunity in our amazing industry and to say that one of her students and now educators, Tyler Gray has won the Against the Odds award says a lot about the support and belief she has in her learners.
Mary also sees the value in mental health training and her passion its importance in her industry shines through. She is constantly speaking out about mental wellbeing and shows her support for the LBC. Mary is making a huge difference to many people’s lives, her previous recognition by the Queen, being awarded an MBE says and awful lot and we want to also celebrate and thank her for all she does.
Without sponsorship, this laudable event would not be possible; sponsors are the backbone of its existence.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your commitment.