When your coif is not quite correct, it can put a damper on everything—hence the term “bad hair day.”
Now imagine the emotional impact of not having the ability to wash your hair regularly, let alone get regular haircuts. For millions of homeless people, this is part of their reality.
So London-based hairdresser Joshua Coombes decided to make difference—one haircut at a time.
While visiting New York City, Coombes was inspired by hairstylists who provide free haircuts for homeless people. When he returned home, he decided to do the same during his off hours. Now, he performs as many as seven haircuts a day. As he explained to the UK’s Daily Mail, “It is easy to just give money to charity, but it is even more rewarding to create awareness.”
Coombes has since provided haircuts and shaves to countless homeless men and some women in his hometown. He even travels the world offering his services, which has taken him to France, Germany, Spain and back to the United States.
He sometimes shares stories of his interactions with his clients on Instagram, such as 70-year-old Jim (below) who lives in Los Angeles. As Coombes explains in the caption, Jim served in Vietnam and worked as an x-ray tech before falling on hard times. He’s now been homeless for three years, and he gave Coombes some insight into how that came to be.
“When I got home from Vietnam, I continued in the lab for a while. I met someone and we got married. She was a great girl, I suppose I was always punching above my weight. I found out she was cheating on me. It was rough, you know. I started drinking more often and caring less, it was only a matter of time before we spilt.”
He told Coombes that he moved to California 15 years ago for the warmer weather.
“I got a good deal on a place up the road here in Echo Park, but the rent kept on going up and the guy I was living with let me down on his share,” Jim said. “There was one month where it all just went wrong. Here I am.”
Coombes is taking his outreach a step further and turning it into a movement with a site DoSomethingForNothing and the hashtag #DoSomethingForNothing. He hopes to encourage others to follow suit helping the homeless and helping to humanize their situation.
Coombes hopes he can inspire more people to help others and show them how easy it is. As he writes on his site, “We’re not raising awareness, we’re raising compassion.”