After the death of his friend Alex, Torquay-based barber Tom Chapman founded the charity ‘The Lions Barber Collective’. Its mission is to create non-clinical, non-judgemental safe spaces where men feel comfortable to talk about their mental health and to signpost them to support and information. With someone in the UK taking their own life every 120 minutes, 75% of them being men, the need for change is more crucial than ever.
Now drawing towards the charities the fifth year since it was founded and anniversary on 10th September which is commonly World Suicide Prevention Day each year, the Lions Barber Collective is seeking more hair professionals to take their training to ensure that their clients are supported with their mental well-being and prevent possible suicides.
Recognising that barbers and hair professionals are often a trusted confidant and friendly ear to their customers, the charity has developed a clinically-backed training programme (BarberTalk) for hairstylists to support their clients and communities.
The BarberTalk training is based on the four pillars of recognise, ask, listen and help which gives them the knowledge to be able to bridge the gap between the communities they serve and the resources that are available while providing a safe space to share, open up or offload.
Working with national bodies such as the NHS and Public Health England as well as local authorities across the UK, by delivering the training the charity does not aim to create barbers into counsellors, however allowing the industry to embrace the trust clients have with their barber to make a difference and be able to become that first step on that journey, directing people to where they can receive the help they need.
With the charity going from strength to strength, the journey of the last five years can be seen in the charities documentary ‘The £1.7 Million Haircut’ which follows Tom taking the challenge head-on, to break down the stigma around men discussing their mental health. Tom meets with influential leaders to expose the stark reality the impact suicide has on communities, healthcare services and the economy. ‘The £1.7 Million Haircut’ documentary recounts the story of a life lost to suicide and an ambition to create safe spaces for men to talk, open up and work towards a world free from suicide. The documentary features Paul, the friend of Tom whose life was saved through these conversations. The impact can be seen when his parent discusses the heartbreaking story of their son who had planned suicide as he felt there was no other alternative.
Tom Chapman said: ‘The economic impact per suicide is something I had not really considered before, loss of earning, loss of employment, inquests into the death, it amounts to so much more than we could ever imagine. It now makes what we are doing as a charity even more important, to save lives and make a difference to families out there who have been subject to such tragedy. I am now making it my mission to create a world free from suicide, how could we ask for anything less?’
Eddie Temple Morris, Producer and Virgin Radio DJ said: ‘Like Professor Green passed the baton to Tom Chapman, who has run exceptionally, beautifully to the finish line, inspiring thousands in the process.’
Modern Barber magazine commented: ‘Tom’s actions demonstrate that when we stand accountable for the ways in which we can support people then we can ALWAYS make a difference. This film shows just how powerfully positive a barber’s job can be.’
Image credit: Freepik