Toni&Guy provide 50 free haircuts to Edinburgh’s homeless

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A yuletide boost to social calendars sees parties rack up during the countdown to Christmas with everyone keen to look their best.

But for many, a festive freshen-up is not on the cards and for those experiencing homelessness and social isolation, it is often an expense too far.

Toni & Guy hairdressers who offered free haircuts for the homeless -'Gillian Solley, manager, and Matt Harcus

Toni & Guy hairdressers who offered free haircuts for the homeless -'Gillian Solley, manager, and Matt Harcus

Hairdressers from city salon Toni&Guy wanted to change this, and teamed up with Social Bite charity to deliver a dose of Christmas Cheer.

In a bid to give the healing effects of a high-end pamper to the city’s homeless, the Frederick Street hairdressers opened on Sunday afternoon to provide free hair cuts to 50 homeless people.

Gillian Solley, co-ordinated the event which saw hairdressers and barbers from across the city and West Lothian come in on their day off to bring a little indulgence to those who deserve a lift.

Gillian thanked the stylists from ID Hair, Act Academy, Network Barbers,, Myka, Urban Edinburgh and Live Aveda who made the event possible.

Some of the homeless guests and the staff

Some of the homeless guests and the staff

“We really couldn’t have done it without you guys,” she said. “At this time of year hairdressers are busy getting everyone ready for the party season and we wanted to make people feel pampered that might not normally have the opportunity to attend salons.”

Mercedes Dominguez, of Social Bite’s Social Impact Team said the event had been a huge success and really touched those who had turned up.

She said: “This is an incredible act of kindness and yet again Toni&Guy have pulled this together for our homeless community for the second year running and our team at Social Bite feel very humbled that 50 haircuts are available for 33 women and 27 men.

“So many from our hairdressing community are committed to ending homelessness in Scotland.”

Mercedes said the event also prompted a few happy tears, as well as incredible makeovers, and “smiles all round”.

She said: “The men in particular were quite moved by getting their hair washed.

“It was exactly the same service as you would get if you were to come into a salon and pay full price.

“And some of the woman had tears in their eyes.

“They commented on how well they were treated and said they didn’t deserve it, but of course they do. They are human beings.”

Mercedes had helped spread the word through local hostels and homeless charities in a bid to let as many people know about the free opportunity as possible.

She added: “The staff from the different stylists had also brought in toiletries, brand new blankets and jackets for the clients.

“They were loving it.

“They also went away with a goodie bag which the hairdressers had put together with some essentials.”

Mercedes said the environment that was created at Toni&Guy helped to put those visiting at ease.

“It was really nice because some of the guys didn’t want to leave. It was a cold day and the salon was lovely and warm.

“So we encouraged them to stay drinking tea, having cakes and keeping warm.

“To make them feel so comfortable was a really incredible moment.

“I cannot stress that enough. Many were feeling quite apprehensive about coming.

“They said that they had never been to a “posh salon” - but after being made to feel at ease, they were loving it.”

Stylists gave head massages, braided hair, threaded eyebrows and tidied up beards as well as hair cuts.

“I would like to thank Gillian Solley for getting all these hair stylists on board in such a quick time and for opening their doors to us,” Mercedes added.

The Evening News has teamed up with Tesco, Network Rail, Hibs, Hearts, NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government this year to run our Edinburgh Cheer Christmas campaign – aiming to make the city and the Lothians the “Capital of Kindness”.

Whether it’s inviting someone to lunch or donating items to a local foodbank, the campaign is designed to show how easily we can all give something back.