Lottery funding to help hair pros support mental health

A trip to the hairdresser/barber makes us feel good, but hair professionals are often at the sharp end listening to clients as they work.

Local community group, The Lions Barber Collective, is celebrating after being awarded £30,000 in National Lottery funding to support its work training hair professionals to support the mental health of their clients and colleagues. Perfect timing for World Mental Health Day. The group, based in Devon, will use the cash to deliver BarberTalk training to hair professionals across England.

Tom Chapman founded The Lions Barber Collective in 2015, becoming a charity late in 2017 after losing a friend to suicide in 2014. BarberTalk has been developed by Tom and former psychiatrist of the year and lead for suicide prevention in the SW, Dr Peter Aitken and trained well over 1500 hair pros globally in the last 18 months.

The group has a vision of a world free from suicide, because why should we aim for anything less! Their mission is to create non-clinical non-judgmental safe spaces where people feel comfortable to open up and talk about mental health, being able to signpost them to support and information. This is achieved through pop up barbershops in public spaces, public speaking, events and BarberTalk training.

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will see the opportunity for hair professionals and trainees to receive the training across the nation.

At the same time, the group will be able to collect and collate some data around the effectiveness of the training to both the hair professionals and the clients in the chair. This will be invaluable to help improve the already life-saving BarberTalk.

Tom Chapman, founder of LBC and BarberTalk says: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to enable hair professionals with the ability to recognize the signs someone may be struggling, give them the confidence to ask the right questions, actively listen with empathy and give them the knowledge to help those struggling find the help they need. This is important, especially in this time because it can save lives! The infrastructure that the hair industry has is incredible, we are on every high street from London to the smallest village and we are a non-clinical, accessible safe space that anyone can visit. Hopefully, we can bridge the gap between the communities we serve and the resources available. Suicide is the biggest killer in under 45’s, 75% of them men with the highest rates in suicide since the 90’s, the barbershop or salon can help prevent ill mental health.”

 Karen McMillan – Programme Director LBC, says:  “This funding will enable us to take a few more steps closer to educating the entire industry in mental health, preparing them not only for those moments of crisis but everyday conversations as we all have mental health.

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