A pilot scheme to help Devon’s homeless gain the skills, qualifications and confidence needed to get their lives back on track and pursue a career in hair and barbering, has been launched.
The scheme gives new hope to homeless and vulnerably housed adults who want to learn a trade so they can support themselves and their loved ones.
Now Devon County Council’s adult education service Learn Devon, Hair@theAcademy, a specialist training salon supporting vulnerable people, Exeter salon The Hair Boutique and homeless shelter Gabriel House have joined forces to give the homeless a helping hand.
The launch was held at The Hair Boutique in Musgrave Row (Thursday 8 February) and was attended by learners, representatives from Learn Devon, The Hair Boutique, Catherine Kidman of the VTCT, the awarding body for the hairdressing qualifications, and John McNally MP, Chair of the Hair industry All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).
Six vulnerably-housed adults will take part in the course which will teach hairdressing skills, give practical experience and allow learners to work towards a Level 2 Certificate in Barbering.
The day-to-day training will be delivered by Hair@theAcademy – more than 90% of Hair@theAcademy learners pass their qualifications, with 70% moving on to further education or employment.
As part of the scheme specialist tutors at Learn Devon will be on hand to help prepare the learners for the workplace. This includes ongoing support and help with their Maths and English skills.
The pilot is one of the first of its kind and could be rolled out across the country.
Hair@TheAcademy and Learn Devon has worked successfully together for several years helping vulnerable young people and adults learn new skills.
Lisa, one of the learners who lives in supported living accommodation, said: “I started hair at college but I fell pregnant so I had to leave.
“I’ve always wanted to be a hairdresser but my life was too hectic until now.
“When I’m qualified I’d like to stay on to do hairdressing. I’m planning to have my own mobile hairdressing service. I’m looking forward to my future in hair and barbering.”
Jack, who also lives in supported living accommodation, is working towards Barbering Level 2 Certificate.
He said: “The more I learn the more I enjoy it.
“At first, I wasn’t sure if I would but I am and I’m 100% glad I started the course and I’m going to see it through until I am a qualified barber.
“When I have finished the course, I hope that with my partner we can start our own business.”
The Hair Boutique is owned by Nicola Marke and Shaun Thornburgh.
Nicola Marke said: “We strongly believe and support this worthwhile project and wanted to help people to learn a great trade that can create a good livelihood and a sense of purpose. The skills they learn will empower all involved in this scheme to provide a valuable service.”
Mary Pugsley of Hair@theAcademy said: “Many learners have not experienced professional working environments before and the ability to work with others is something many of us take for granted.
“For those who have come from challenging backgrounds even getting to the point where they are able to take part in a scheme such as this a huge achievement.
“This scheme will give them the tools and the opportunity to turn their life around in an environment where they feel safe.”