Barbershop initiative offers cuts and chats

3rd May 2023

Award winning Weymouth barbers, Barberista UK have teamed up with Dorset Mental Health Forum and local community organisations to offer men a safe space to get a free haircut whilst opening up about their mental health if they wish.

The monthly sessions are run by Peer Specialists from the Forums’ Sports and Social team, alongside barber Alex Douglas, giving men opportunities to speak up within a non-judgemental environment.

Local boxing group Fight Back Mental Health, and charity The Lantern Trust have also been closely involved with the initiative, bringing men they are working alongside to the sessions.

Barberista UK’s owner Alex Douglas said: “The shop has a very relaxed vibe to it with a TV, pool table and foosball table. People can get a fresh cut and shave, have a chat with other like-minded people, shoot a bit of pool and just generally take some time out”.

Sarah Rose, Operations Director, Dorset Mental Health Forum said: “This project is a wonderful opportunity to create space in the heart of the community to normalise mental health and enable people to access peer support. We see community connection as a vital part of Recovery and are delighted to work in partnership with Barberista UK”.

Matt Rees, Founder, Fight Back Mental Health boxing group said: “It’s been a great experience to be able to work alongside other local charities to set-up this group. Our lads from Fight Back Mental Health have really enjoyed the groups they have attended and get on well with Alex and the others. It’s great to see how happy people are once they’ve had their haircut from Alex, the smiles on their faces makes it all worth it”.

Tanya Bailey, Education, Training & Employment Coordinator, Lantern Trust said: “One of the most valuable elements to stand out from this opportunity (apart from it being a great space to be at ease and get a free haircut!) is that it’s a community-based activity providing an integrated environment which people choose to attend rather than a service being placed upon them. This group has benefitted many of our Lantern clients and gives them a chance to simply do something every day and normal in an extraordinary yet subtle way”.

The initiative focuses on the direct link between self-esteem and mental health – a haircut or shave can give someone that needed confidence boost after not having the ability to look after themselves in what could have been a very long time. By providing peer support in the local community, the Sports and Social team are able to signpost to their regular group activities as well as being on hand to talk to if people are struggling with their mental health.

If you are an organisation interested in referring to the initiative or require further information on wider Sports and Social groups, please contact Senior Peer Specialist, Tia Roos on 07436 127186.

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