Hair to help: City grant keeps volunteers snipping

January 14, 2021 BY

Hair model Cooper Ward (centre) gets a trim from Hair Aid ambassador Helen Dunne (right) with a little help from City of Greater Geelong councillors Eddy Kontelj, Sarah Mansfield and Peter Murrihy. Photo: JAMES TAYLOR

VOLUNTEERS are being supported to keep their scissors snipping for those most in need through a City of Greater Geelong grant.

The $5,198 from the city’s Community Grants program will go to the Geelong branch of Hair Aid Community Cuts, which trains and co-ordinates volunteer hairdressers who give vulnerable community members haircuts.

Hair Aid volunteers connect with outreach programs to provide haircuts to people in need, including those who might be experiencing homelessness, unemployment, mental health issues and/or family violence.

Some clients are from an Indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Hair Aid Inc founder Selina Tomasich said the council grant would support the training of 12 dedicated volunteers in Greater Geelong and help equip four locations with hairdressing tools.

“Volunteers will provide more than 40 haircuts at each site every six weeks, totalling more than 1,200 free cuts over 12 months.”

“This program will make a huge difference to vulnerable residents within the region, who might be unable to access a hair salon due to financial difficulty, mental health or language barriers or family violence.”

Hairdresser and Hair Aid ambassador Helen Dunne trains hairdressing students through her business Helen Dunne Education to cut hair for Hair Aid clients.

Brownbill Ward councillors Eddy Kontelj, Sarah Mansfield and Peter Murrihy visited Ms Dunne’s studio last week to learn more about the program.

Ms Dunne said there had been an increase in the number of people needing the free service since she first started volunteering with Hair Aid in 2017.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased demand for free haircuts for members of the community who are having a rough time,” she said.

“It’s really rewarding to see their faces light up when they see their fresh cut for the first time, it really makes a difference to their sense of self.”

Hair Aid projects also send cut hair to Sustainable Salons, which uses the waste product to help soak up oil spills.

Cr Kontelj said the everyday experience of obtaining a haircut should not be underestimated.

“Receiving a fresh haircut, which is something everybody should be able to have, at a vulnerable time can offer a much-needed confidence boost, instil dignity and provide a social outlet, which is so important.”.

Cr Mansfield said the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching impacts.

“Getting a haircut is something many of us take for granted, but there are community members who are struggling as a result of the pandemic who might not be able to afford this service.”

Cr Peter Murrihy said community members are directly connected with outreach programs while accessing Hair Aid’s services.

“Council’s proud to support Hair Aid as it restores a sense of dignity in community members doing it tough, while facilitating a relationship with outreach groups who can make a positive difference in their lives.”

The grant was among 120 worth a collective $567,000 in value awarded by the council last month under the first round of its 2020-21 Community Grants program.

Applications of up to $350,000 under the $3 million Community Infrastructure grants stream are being assessed and will be awarded in February.

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