A British hairdresser is travelling the world and offering free haircuts to men and women living on the street in hopes of sparking similar acts of kindness.
Joshua Coombes, a London-based hair stylist, has visited cities in India, France, the United Kingdom and the U.S. giving makeovers to the homeless. He shares their stories on Instagram, where he aims to offer a new perspective about those who live on the street.
He tags his posts with hashtag #DoSomethingForNothing in hopes of encouraging others to perform similarly selfless acts. The hashtag has since been used more than 25,000 times.
Coombes clientele include people like David, a man who lives in London near a subway station. He’s cut David’s hair three times in the past few years.
“His smile is infectious. He considers it the most valuable thing he has,” Coombes wrote in a post.
During his trip to Mumbai, Coombes visited an orphanage and a shelter for children, where he provided haircuts for kids. He also visited Dharavi, a densely-populated slum with a population of approximately 700,000 people.
On a recent visit to Paris, Coombes cut the hair of a homeless man named Florin, who ended up on the street after suffering a stroke.
“Florin told us what makes him happy in life. It was so good to meet that day. His warmth really shone through as we spent more time together,” Coombes wrote.
Coombes recently partnered with shoe company TOMS to put on an art show profiling some of his work.
This is David. We saw each other again last week. It’s the third time I’ve cut his hair. I guess it’s fair to say that I’m his hairdresser and he’s one of my regulars. But, as you know, this has always been about much more than that... When our paths first crossed over a year ago at his spot near London Bridge station, we had an immediate connection. Despite sleeping out on the street for the last two years, (I say that so often I have to remind myself what just a few nights on the concrete would feel like...) David seems to have a way of retaining who he is. His smile is infectious. He considers it the most valuable thing he has. . “When I wake up, at about 5:45 in the morning, I sit by the station. I always make sure I say good morning and smile at people as they’re on their way to work. Because, we can be so sad sometimes...I really see it. We’re all walking around with troubles and I think a smile can make you forget them for a moment... Like, this lady smiled at me this morning and it instantly put a smile on my face also. Then there was this one fella, we see each other every morning, who stopped the other day and said - ‘You know what David? You make it a pleasure going to work, I genuinely look forward to walking past here in the morning.’ - At first I thought it wouldn’t make a difference, but then I see people’s reactions and it’s real... I have some people say to me - ‘David, you’re the only person who says good morning to me...’ which is mad isn’t it..? I know a smile makes a difference because I’ve seen it for myself now. I’ve seen people as they turn the corner, look around and then smile back... That’s really nice.” . David and I talk a lot on the phone and touch base whenever we can. The last five years have been a rollercoaster for him. If you want to find more about his story, scroll down in my feed a while. @gotvitaminc painted David last year for our @lightnoiseart show in London and we’re selling the painting, with all proceeds going directly to David. Scroll right and DM me if you’re interested. Thanks for your constant love and support. People like David are as important to me as anybody else. #DoSomethingForNothing
Whilst in Paris recently, I walked back to the same street where I once visited my late friend, Cedric. I always go back to this spot when I’m in the city. One street away from where he used to sleep, I met Florin. Florin came to Paris from Romania late last year. He’s worked in construction jobs for most of his life, but recently, steady employment became difficult, so he left for job opportunities elsewhere. He only spoke a small amount of English. But thankfully, one of Jaz’s (@theworldwidetribe) good friends, Joanna, is Romanian, so she help us communicate over the phone. When Florin came to Paris, things took an unexpected turn... He experienced a stroke that left him in hospital for a week. When he woke, Florin no longer had his passport or phone with him and had no memory of what happened... Without his documents, He had no way to travel back home so began sleeping on the streets... When we met Florin, he was waiting for an appointment with the Embassy of Romania and was in limbo for the foreseeable. Florin told us what makes him happy in life. It was was so good to meet that day. His warmth really shone through as we spent more time together. So much so that he insisted that we visit him in Romania when he manages to get back there. One realistic goal we can all have is to be more aware and present for those around us who might feel isolated. I saw the difference it made in Florin that someone noticed him and listened. Nothing should get in the way of the connection you can make with another human being and the potential is has to help them and, in turn, help yourself. #DoSomethingForNothing
This is Arnav. I met him at the Vatsalya Foundation in Mumbai this time last week. Vatsalya provide outreach for street children and take care of their education, shelter & other essential needs leading to their holistic development. This is where Arnav lives, along with a large group of other boys. I came to the shelter unannounced on a Sunday morning and asked if I could spend some time there and give some of the children a haircut. They couldn’t have been more welcoming. Arnav was one of the first kids that I met. He ran up to say hello to me and grabbed my hand to take me on a tour of the place. He was full of energy and smiles. We sat outside and spent the morning together. Arnav has been here for three years and told me that when they have free time he likes to paint and play football. It was really difficult leaving him and the other kids but I’ll always think back on this and and go back and visit them again one day. #DoSomethingForNothing