SIX years after a charity barber service started in a Northbridge carpark with a couple of milk cartons for seats, Short Back & Sidewalks has gone national and now has more than 250 volunteers.
Inglewood local Craig Hollywood founded the charity in 2015 when he teamed up with Westons Barbershop to offer haircuts for people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, youth-at-risk and other disadvantage.
“The idea at the very beginning [was] regardless of your circumstances, everyone deserves to feel good,” he says.
“When you’re cold and you’re hungry, and you don’t know where you’re going to be sleeping that night… your spare money is probably not going to go to a haircut.”
Along with giving people a boost in confidence, Mr Hollywood says both the haircutter and customer get a lot out of the mid-cut conversations.
“Our mission is to create positive connections while also breaking down the stigma that’s often attached to members of the community in need, one free haircut at the time.”
They teamed up with established service providers to get to the people in need, and Mr Hollywood says “the immediate demand for the service was huge”.
SB&S volunteers now offer their services in Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, working with Ruah, St Vincent de Paul, Mission Australia and Orange Sky Laundry.
Mr Hollywood’s just been announced as a finalist in the Local Hero category for the Australian of the Year Awards.
He says “it’s an absolute honour to be thought of in the same breath as some of the people who’ve been nominated… there’s professors and people working on domestic violence and climate change.
“Being nominated for this award is an honour, but more than anything I hope it provides an opportunity to get more people involved with Short Back & Sidewalks.”
He says currently “we’re looking primarily for hairdressers and barbers that are able to give a couple of hours on Christmas Day” for Mission Australia’s Christmas Lunch in the Park.
“Even if it is just two hours of someone’s day, the absolute huge impact it can have… and the knock-on effect, is enormous.”
Point any hairdressers or barbers to www. shortbackandsidewalks.com if they’re keen to volunteer.
By DAVID BELL