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How a haircut can change a life
You know that fresh haircut feeling? The one where you leave the salon like a new lady and feel like you can conquer the world? Well Short Back & Sidewalks is giving people that feeling – on a bigger and better scale.
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The not for profit charity offers haircuts to those in need, “free of charge and free of judgement”. Two members of the NSW cutting team, Heather and Shonagh, spoke with beautyheaven about the charity and the power of a haircut...
What is Short Back & Sidewalks?
“It’s an Australian Not-for-profit that helps those in need to receive haircuts. Free of charge and free of judgement, in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere,” says Shonagh.
Local hairdressers and barbers come together to make the charity runs the way it does. “[They] get together and make people who are less fortunate feel fresh and pampered,” explains Heather.
How much impact can a haircut have?
Shonagh says it can have a huge impact. “Even if it’s just for a day it makes our clients feel important to have a fuss made about them that may not otherwise happen. To those that aren’t experiencing homelessness, going and getting a haircut is something we do unconsciously, but to some it’s a luxury,” she says. “For example I do an elderly lady’s hair every time we do our cutting nights, I always see her straight away sat waiting. I hardly take anything off her hair but I can tell how much she loves to sit down, have somebody pamper her and make her feel important for a moment.” And it’s a few minutes into a haircut when Shonagh notices clients getting more chatty and starting to check themselves out in the mirror – “it’s really amazing to see”.
Heather agrees, saying that the haircuts make people feel great. “It gives confidence and lifts self-esteem. That’s what’s great about hairdressing, whether it be on the streets or in the salon, it puts a smile on someone’s face,” she says. “We have a chat and relax and make people feel and look their best!”
Have you had any moments at Short Back & Sidewalks that still stick, and will continue to stick, with you?
“Oh yes! We recently flew to North-East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory to cut hair at a festival called Garma,” says Heather. “This is an Indigenous festival to celebrate and share culture and knowledge from the Yolngu people. We worked solidly for three days in the heat. We cut hair, beards, braids, colours, hairsprays and we even did some nail painting. We looked after almost 300 people over the three days. Everyone had their story, some wanted to just sit and relax and experience having their haircut, but there was one woman who I will never forget. Gloria. A beautiful, quiet, Indigenous lady in her mid 50’s. I asked what she would like to have done with her hair and her reply was ‘I don’t know Miss, I have never had my hair done by anyone else before’ and my heart sank! I then explained what I thought we should do as she had such beautiful hair. I cut Gloria’s hair, put some moisturising leave-in conditioner then braided it and then sent her over to have her nails done by one of our other team members. I’ve never felt so emotional looking after someone in my chair before. She walked away with a beautiful smile and feeling great! That’s why I love what I do and why I love working for Short Back & Sidewalks”.
Shonagh had a moment at her first Short Back & Sidewalks night that similarly stayed with her. “I had been speaking to a homeless man for about a year, seeing him almost every morning. I had been telling him about what we were doing and how excited I was to start Short Back & Sidewalks... in Sydney and on the night of the “opening” he came on the train using his busking money to show his support, was so happy to see a friendly face,” she says.
How can people help if they want to get involved with Short, Back & Sidewalks?
“Donations are always welcome at www.shortbackandsidewalks.com,” says Heather. “Or if you are a hairdresser/barber you can get in touch with Craig through the website and join our amazing team.”
Shonagh says the team is always looking for more hairdressers and barbers to help out, but it’s also just about spreading awareness. “The best way [to do that] would be to head to www.shortbackandsidewalks.com or even send a message on our Instagram account which is @short_back_and_sidewalks.”
Had you ever heard of Short Back & Sidewalks?
Main image: supplied by Short Back & Sidewalks