Some of the Haircuts4Homeless sessions happen at regular local centres just for women, where they can go and get their hair and makeup done. The charity creates a safe space for these women, and it becomes a place not only to have their haircut, but to socialise as well. Image: Jack Eames/Haircuts4Homeless
Charity Haircuts4Homeless has offered up 40,000 cuts during the charity’s lifetime and has spent more than two years gathering stories and photos of the people they support.
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The project, spearheaded by fashion and beauty photographer Jack Eames and session stylist Leigh Keates, has now been collected in a new coffee-table book called ’Hear Me, See Me’, which is available to pre-order.
Haircuts4Homelesss’ Mary Sims-Howlett told The Big Issue the striking black and white photos were about showing the individual behind the snips.
“It’s about trying to humanise the face of homelessness,” said Sims-Howlett.
“It’s just about reminding people that these are human beings. I think it’s quite often that people write them off as homeless people, but they’re just people affected by homelessness at the end of the day.”
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Veteran hairdresser Stewart Roberts started Haircuts4Homeless to offer up free cuts after his own addiction battle and set out to offer free cuts and create a whole community of skilled hairdresser volunteers to do the same. The idea has since caught on while the charity has attracted high-profile support from the likes of Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey.
The charity has now supported 68 projects across the UK and wanted to show the stigmas and stereotypes many of their clients encounter as well as “thought-provoking imagery and words” that showcase the importance of a haircut, something most people take for granted.
“It’s not necessarily work that is going to solve homelessness,” said Sims-Howlett. “But I think the big thing is the touch, the tactile nature of it and the intimacy of it. Those are important things that people affected by homelessness miss out on.
“It’s not just about them showing up and him cutting their hair. It’s about having that moment of intimacy and conversations as well.”
Roberts added: “This is not just a book, this is not just a haircut, this is a community. A community that creates a space for wellbeing and acceptance and – even if it is temporary – it allows our guests some respite and an opportunity to escape their difficult circumstances.”
The charity has crowdfunded more than £20,000 to print a run of the 120-page books with pre-orders available now ahead of Christmas from its website.
All proceeds from the book will go towards helping Haircuts4Homeless continue to offer haircuts for people around the country.