After starting out “as a few folk heading into car parks in Northbridge” a few years ago, Perth-based charity Short Back & Sidewalks (SBSW) delivered their 7000th free haircut yesterday, Monday 29 August.
The ethos behind the initiative, is as simple as it is vital: “When you’re cold, hungry, scared, and don’t know where you’ll be sleeping, your appearance isn’t a high priority,” said SBSW founder and CEO Craig Hollywood. “But positive connection and enhanced appearance are integral to your self-confidence, mental health and well-being… It could be the confidence boost someone needs to apply for accommodation or for a job.”
Teaming up with Australian hair care brand evo to reach the huge goal of 7000 people, SBSW has expanded to become a national project, with hairdressers around the country offering their services to help some of Australia’s most marginalised community members.
“One of the common things we hear from our haircutting community is that they would love to volunteer their time, but aren’t sure where to start,” said evo’s head of brand Nina Junin.
Yesterday’s 7000th haircut was delivered to Travis during service at Passages Youth Engagement Hub in Perth, and was attended by The Hon. Patrick Gorman, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Federal Member for Perth.
Hollywood is hopeful of more than doubling the number over the next few years: “Partnering with an awesome, like minded organisation such as evo will give Short Back & Sidewalks the opportunity to scale our impact, and help more people in need as we move towards our target of 15,000 free haircuts a year by 2025.”
According to SBSW, on any given night more than 116,000 people in Australia are experiencing homelessness, which not includes not living under a roof, but people in crisis accommodation, rooming houses, insecure housing, overcrowded dwellings or couch-surfing.
Learn more about Short Back & Sidewalks at their Website.
All photos: Jacqueline van Grootel