NEW YORK — A London-based hairdresser has made it his life’s work to travel to cities around the globe to meet homeless people and connect with them on the most basic human level, by giving them haircuts. This week, he made another trip to New York City and PIX11 caught up with him.
Joshua Coombes started the social media movement #DoSomethingForNothing.
“It’s a way of amplifying kindness, what I do is cut hair of people on the street who are homeless, but your do something for nothing might be very different,” Coombes said.
Coombes is hoping to inspire people all over the world to “do something for nothing,” essentially, to give back.
“Really, this is about anything you love doing, going out and giving it. It’s no longer charity, its connection and you’re going to love and you’re going to love what you’re doing as much as the person is going to love getting it,” Coombes said.
Coombes says he approaches people and strikes up a conversation.
“The common conversation and connection, I think we’re hard-wired for that as humans and that’s always how it starts for me, it’s ‘hey how are you how you doing today can I sit down next to you can I talk to you.’ It’s the way you would talk to anyone in life. Really it’s no different. This is how it starts and then I carry things in my backpack and say ‘hey if you want a haircut, great, but if not, I’m still gonna have a conversation. A haircut is usually a fun reaction, actually it’s ‘hey, I haven’t had my haircut for a while' and then you get this transformation in a person. Forget the haircut. Actually, it’s the transition and the connecting with someone.”
A look at his Instagram shows he’s been to cities like Anchorage, Paris, Berlin and Sydney, in just the past several months. The movement is coming up on three years and, in that time, Coombes has given haircuts to hundreds of strangers in dozens of cities. But it’s not about the numbers, it’s about giving each person a voice.
“You’re going to meet people who had a business five years ago who have gone down that spiral, who was in a situation that looked really safe, but you’re also going to meet people who had a start in life that would never have as much opportunity as the rest of us,” Coombes said.
He says he has a fondness in his heart for New York City. He’s cut hair all over the city.
“This place is so alive, with every moment and every part of the city. I just love the people. I have some really amazing moments with people here it’s a fast pace with lots going, being able to create a little pocket of community in a big city. It’s a really nice feeling,” Coombes said.
Coombes relies on sponsors to help pay for his travel to different cities. Right now, Lush Cosmetics company is his key sponsor. But at the heart of all this, he says he’s found his life’s work. The reward is in the strangers he meets.
“For me, it’s about the magic in a person, what I really try and do is have interaction, to give me that magic too, cause you know when I go out and do this, it’s not charity, it’s really as much for me as well," Coombes said. "I meet some really beautiful people with amazing stories to tell and I’m trying to document it in a light that’s not sad. Actually it’s the happiness you find in someone, it’s the humanness that we can all relate to."