I received this recently, a certificate from Randwick Council acknowledging my contribution to the local community during 2020 by offering ‘free and pay-what-you-can-afford’ haircuts to the local community who may have been experiencing hardship because of the pandemic. 

I’d like to say that the initiative was not a totally self-sacrificing project. I’ve met lots of people from the local community through this, many of whom I now call friend. 

I’d like to say that not many people received a haircut entirely for “free”. People provided me with home-cooked food, I had keys cut by local locksmiths as payment, fresh fruit provided to me from backyard gardens; I’ve been connected to mechanics, auto-electricians, photographers, people have connected me with local news journalists; the ways in which clients/guests have ‘paid’ me for this meagre service are endless, and I’ve benefitted greatly from it. 

I’m still doing to free or pay-what-you-can-afford haircuts from my garage in Kingsford. 

My little garage in Kingsford represents to me a personal renaissance of growth during 2020. This time last year the space was filled with the junk and old mattresses, desks, trash, left behind by former tenants. Now it’s the perfect space to continue with my initiative. As the garage developed, I developed; as the garage grew to become more comfortable, I grew to become more comfortable; as the garage developed in style, so did I. 

My 2020, as with most, came with considerable challenges. I’m proud to say that I didn’t waste one second of that regrettable year. Sure, I had plenty of moments that weren’t pretty; I drank too much; I put on lots of weight; I did what I needed to to get through, but the entire time I was making plans, wheeling and dealing my way forward, trying to make new connections, trying to be a support network in my local community.

I’m on the cusp of launching my business. My Original Nursing Barbers business is now ready to take on clients. This business is the only one of its kind that I know of. It combines Nursing and Barbering (obviously). My business is geared towards vulnerable males: aging men who maybe be lonely, men in group homes living with disabilities, men with autism, men in psychiatric units, men with mental health issues, etc. 

What a lot of people do not know is that barbering and nursing/medicine have been enmeshed together for time immemorial. The origins of barbering are pretty grim. Barbers used to extract teeth; barbers would perform bloodletting procedures and amputations and other surgeries. The red and white of the Barber’s Pole represents the bloody bandages that would slowly curtail bleeding post-procedure – which is pretty disturbing to be honest. 

I’ve tried to acknowledge this history in my logo that features the Barber’s Pole as the Rod of Asclepius – a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The serpents on my logo are coloured red and blue representing venous and arterial blood; the rest of the logo is very traditional, a homage to the marketing efforts of yesteryear where original services were abundant. 

The Original Nursing Barbers first and most fundamental service is to provide vulnerable males with company, friendship, companionship, provided importantly, by another man. 

My barbering skills act as a conduit for me to reach out to my clients and I utilise this time between us to talk, touch, listen, and laugh. The service involves rapport building so my clients are happy and looking forward to seeing me and spending time together – trust. At the end of the service, that includes, haircuts, shaving and head and neck massages I’ll attend to my nursing assessments: blood-pressures, heart rates, blood glucose levels, weights, etc. 

I plan to be an independent advocate, friend, nurse and barber supporting my clients and ensuring their safety with weekly visits. 

The more I explore the capabilities this service provides the more excited I am that the business I’m running is one born of nursing ethics and codes of conduct. 

12 months ago a grey cloud of uncertainty shadowed the entire world, and in many respects we’re not totally clear of it yet, not by a long shot; but I do feel that within myself I’ve grown in this period and I’ve worked very very hard towards something that I’m very very proud of. 

Thanks for taking the time to read.