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Scheme to help Devon’s homeless learn a trade launched

By February 27, 2018January 26th, 2021Member News & Updates, Why Exeter blog

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 hairdressing and barbering, has now been launched.

The scheme gives new hope to homeless and vulnerably housed adults who want to learn a trade so they can support themselves into employment 

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 Exeter (Thursday 8 February) and was attended by learners, representatives from Hair@theAcademy, VTCT, Learn Devon, John McNally MP, Chair of the Hair industry All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG).

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 specialist training is delivered by Hair@theAcademy – more than 90% of Hair@theAcademy learners pass their qualifications, with 70% moving into employment or self-employment 


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 now lives in supported living accommodation, said: 

“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 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 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, learning in an environment where they feel safe.”


Councillor Stuart Barker Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “One of our key priorities is improving opportunities for every Devon resident and supporting them to learn the skills they need to improve their lives so they can be independent and economically active.

 “This scheme does exactly that, it prepares individuals for the workplace, and helps learners find training placements and provides support with moving on to further training, employment or self-employment.”