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Hair At The Academy (HATA) announces its newly formed sister organisation ‘Hair in the
Community CIC’(HITC) a not-for-profit social enterprise, has kickstarted its free Community School
of Barbering by taking on two sisters from St Petrock’s.
HITC has worked closely with St. Petrock’s, an Exeter-based charity working on behalf of people
experiencing homelessness, by providing free barbering services, including complimentary haircuts
each Tuesday, and actively seeking two learners to have a golden opportunity to receive vocational
education and training to become fully qualified barbers.
Mary Pugsley MBE – Director and founder of HATA & HITC says: “With a community-driven mission,
our goal is to fund charitable activities that support disadvantaged individuals in Exeter and the
wider Devon area, particularly those vulnerable and in need. Through these initiatives, we want to
help people realise their potential, enhance their mental health and well-being, assist them in
securing employment, or advance their education. We are actively seeking funding for the St
Petrock’s Barbering programme and reaching out to Exeter businesses and beyond, to back our
project financially to make a real impact. Their contribution will not only transform the lives of these
individuals but also benefit the community by providing them with a sustainable pathway to
employment and independence.”
She adds: “We are delighted that St. Petrock’s has found sisters Abigail and Anastasia who are
thrilled to be at the forefront of becoming fully trained barbers.”
22-year-old Abigail and sister Anastasia aged 21 faced challenging circumstances throughout their
lives. Anastasia spent her childhood in the care system, moving through various placements until
she found stability in safe accommodation at 16. Abigail, experienced difficulties due to her
mother’s addiction and had to navigate a toxic living environment before finding refuge with
supportive family members and eventually in a shelter.
The sisters were separated for 11 years before reuniting this year. Anastasia had distanced herself
from her family but reconnected with Abigail. Since then, they have become inseparable, with
Abigail taking on a protective and nurturing role towards her younger sister and other siblings.
Anastasia is over the moon with this new opportunity to become self-employed. “I’m so excited to
be doing something positive because people have always told me I will never get far or do anything
with my life. Because of family issues, I’ve never seen myself as someone who is an achiever;
always seeing myself as a failure. It will be so lovely to be known as somebody who is an achiever”.
Abigail and Anastasia share a flat and love living together. Anastasia says: I’m very OCD and like the
flat to be spick and span and with Abi going through her troubles, I wanted to make it feel more like
home to us. I love cleaning and making it more homely and a place for us to live together where we
don’t feel like a shared place. It’s just the two and we’ve made a house our home.”
Heidi Miller, Housing Officer at St. Petrock’s explains the journey. “Abigail was with us during
lockdown because aged 18 she had to leave the accommodation where she was.” Abigail confirms:
“Heidi has been an amazing support over the last 4 years getting me funding and therapy She is a
star and did a lot for me and I’m so grateful.”
Despite their challenging pasts, the sisters look forward to a brighter future and supporting each
other through thick and thin. They are now embarking on a new opportunity to explore a shared
interest in barbering. Anastasia’s motivation and Abigail’s support for each other have created a
strong bond helping them face any challenges that come their way.
Mary Pugsley MBE: “We’re excited and delighted to be training Abigail & Anastasia; their bond is so
strong. It’s not just teaching them in the training room at St. Petrock’s, they will also come to the
HATA salon where they’ll meet other students and get a real feel of being a barber. We and St.
Petrock’s can offer so much support and they will no longer be alone.”
Fully qualified with a level 2 certificate in barbering Rhi Belcher, a former student of HATA, will be the
designated ‘Community Barbering Lead’ guiding Abigail and Anastasia through the extensive training
She concludes: “I feel very honoured to be part of this great project and I think both Abigail and
Anastasia’s story is inspiring. We’re going to have a lot of fun together and at the end of the course
they will have a great qualification and I believe the girls will be connected with HITC for the rest of
their lives.”