Short Back And Sidewalks

Short Back And Sidewalks is a project that sees free haircuts given in the city to those in need, restoring some faith in human nature in the process. BOB GORDON chats with one of its creators, Craig Hollywood.

What’s the background to this initiative and the process of bringing it into actuality?

The project is based around a human being offering their skills to do a nice thing for another human being. It started with this basic principal, which with the help of the incredible staff at Weston’s Barbershop, Perth bred musician Ta-ku, photographers Ian and Erick Regnard, Hart Black, Babooshka cafe and Juicebox Creative has now grown into a project that we believe can offer a real change to a population in need. Since then we’ve had service providers such as The Salvation Army, St. Bartholomew’s House, Uniting Care West, RUAH and Tranby all jump on board with us which we are really excited about.

What were the first experiences like; did you know what the reactions would be from the customers upon the offer of a free haircut?

Our first ever cut was with a man called Godfrey who had travelled from 40kms away, and had turned up even before we’d set up any of our gear. It was then we realised this was something that would connect with people. The reactions were astounding, and one thing that resonated was that the folk getting cuts were happy just to sit down and tell some of their own story, share a coffee, have a bit of banter in an environment where they were treated as a human being.

It’s hard to think of something more positive than a project like this to a person for whom the world kicks-down-and-passes-by. The gesture; the conversation; the rare moment of being pampered; the haircut; seeing the new – or indeed the old – in themselves…

One of the guys told us he felt like so much fresher after his cut, and that it provided him with the opportunity of a new start. Not only was there an obvious physical transformation, but it was apparent that confidence levels were sky high as well, so much so we noticed one of the guys strutting around William Street about three hours later with a smile from ear to ear. It really was a very cool moment for all of us.

Have many background stories to homelessness been shared?

We’ve been told stories from people who have completely lost their family units, people who have previously been owners of very successful businesses that for one reason or another have gone into hardship, and as a result now find themselves sleeping in tents in bushland around Perth. It’s stories like that which make us realise that homelessness is something that can affect absolutely anyone. It’s not just that stereotypical image of a person on the side of the street pushing a trolley of their belongings, it literally can happen to anybody.

How popular have the haircuts proven to be, especially now with word getting out?

So far the reaction from the community has been incredible. We’ve had contact and support from everybody from members of parliament in Canberra all the way through to people phoning to say that since seeing the Short, Back And Sidewalks project they’ve cleared out clothes they don’t wear anymore and taken them to their local St. Vincent De Paul.

Overall, what are your hopes for Short Back And Sidewalks?

At the moment we’re really just looking to brighten up somebody’s day. Eventually we hope to roll the project out across all parts of WA with like-minded barbers and possibly beyond. If you’re on Instagram then come check us out @short_back_and_sidewalks to keep in touch with our next cutting event.