Charlene, a qualified barber, and manager at Peace Barbers in Childwall, Liverpool, has recently set up a C.I.C (Community Interest Company) teaching parents of children with autism or other neurodivergent disabilities how to cut hair.
Charlene has been a barber since 2015, working at several different venues throughout the City of Liverpool. It was during this time that she met a guy called Martin who explained that his young son Harry had a disability which made it difficult for him to have his hair cut and he would be turned away from barbers. With no prior experience of dealing with people with disabilities, Charlene offered to cut Harry’s hair. The following week, Martin’s wife, Debbie, brought Harry into the shop. On arrival, Charlene sensed that Harry was anxious. He was also non-verbal meaning that she couldn’t communicate as well as she would have with her other customers. She hadn’t experienced anything like this before so naturally, it also made her quite anxious, although she didn’t let Harry, or his Mum know this. By the end of the haircut, Charlene wasn’t quite happy with the final cut but when turned to Debbie to see tears in her eyes. Debbie shared that it was the best haircut Harry had ever had!
As Charlene moved to other barber shops, Harry and his family followed even though some of the shops could be busy with long waiting times.
Following Charlene’s experience with Harry, she decided to open her own barber shop with dedicated appointments for adults and children with disabilities or sensory issues. This gave her the time and attention needed for each customer putting them at ease and giving them her best service.
She has met some of the most beautiful families, each with their own unique story of their experiences within barber shops and is proud to have been featured in the Liverpool Echo https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/liverpool-barber-shop-fiveways-caters-14393721 , she is also ecstatic that the majority of her customers have stayed with her over the years despite the trauma caused by the pandemic.
Following the pandemic, Charlene felt that much of her hard work, time and dedication to her customers quickly unravelled. Her customers were desperate for haircuts and to get back into their routine that she was overwhelmed with appointments, however, customers were booking but not turning up. This had a detrimental affect on Charlene’s business and emotional state leaving her disappointed and frustrated. Many customers were feeling as though they didn’t want to leave their homes and were contacting to ask for a mobile service, but due to the overhead costs already associated with the shop, a mobile service was not viable, so customers had to be turned down.
It was because of this that Charlene had an idea to rethink and restart by offering tutoring in Basic Barbering Skills for parents/guardians and, carers for children/adults with hidden disabilities. This would teach parents, guardians, and carers to cut hair in the comfort of their own homes, giving as much time as needed rather than the 30-minute slots she was able to offer in the shop.
Charlene has already successfully trialled two courses which gained fantastic feedback and led her to set up a C.I.C (Community Interest Company) to provide these services FREE of charge to families who really need it. The course will also apply to teachers within special education schools and any children in hospitals for long periods of time.
Do get in touch if this is something you’d be interested in.