“Human touch instantly breaks down barriers, particularly in these disconnected times.”
These are the words of Stewart Roberts MBE, a man on a mission who’s offering his services while also being a friend to the homeless.
Haircuts4Homeless was set up by Mr Roberts in 2014, while he was a volunteer at a Salvation Army in Essex.
Speaking to Merseynewsive, he explained how the idea of his charity was inspired by someone on social media.
“I started Haircuts4Homeless by accident in November 2014. I was volunteering at the Salvation Army in Essex, talking to people about addictions as I am 15 years sober myself, and saw the homeless guys coming in for something to eat.
“I had recently seen a guy on Facebook doing makeovers on homeless people on the street so thought I’ll bring my scissors to the next session and give some haircuts. Little did I know it would change my life.”
Mr Roberts would upload his work to Facebook, which garnered the attention of some hairdressers who wanted to offer their services to the charity and this was the birth of Haircuts4Homeless.
Since then, the charity now has 68 projects across the UK and Ireland, 600 volunteers and has provided over 40,000 haircuts.
Mr Roberts soon realised that he wasn’t just offering a haircut, he was providing respect, communication, and companionship to those who needed it the most.
He went on to say: “There is something special about any profession that lays hands on people.
“We are talking about people who frequently say they feel invisible and lonely so for someone to touch them and have a conversation means the world and is a really beautiful thing to witness.”
On top of the amazing work Stewart has done, in 2020 he started a podcast called “Hear Me, See Me” to highlight some of the work of the unsung heroes he has met, while also having some famous faces too.
He said: “I have been fortunate enough to have had some amazing guests including Game of Thrones star, Lena Headey, the Duchess of York, Meg Mathews, Bella Freud, Sam McKnight and also some amazing unsung heroes who work in the homeless centres.
“Most recently I have done a week of podcasts featuring some amazing women who have survived domestic violence and abuse who are an inspiration.”
All the hard work Mr Roberts has put in over the past seven years has seen him be rewarded with an MBE for his services to homeless people.
However, he states that his MBE doesn’t just represent him, but is a recognition for every member of Haircuts4Homeless and their passion for what they do.
You can find out more about his work on their website, and the “Hear Me, See Me” podcast is available through Acast, Spotify, iTunes, Youtube, and Amazon Music.