This is Chris, 27 years old.
When I saw Chris, we recognised each other at once. I had met him a month before when we sat to share some food together. Back then, he was pitched up on Tottenham Court Rd, looking pretty down on his luck. He spoke to me of the struggles he faces being on the street - "This time of year is the worst. When you're so cold, it's hard to keep your mind in a good place." Chris also spoke to me of how he suffers from bipolar, saying he really feels the effects of this each week - "My mood swings so much from one day to the next. There are times it's hard to cope with my thoughts, but I have days when I'm optimistic." - This was one of those days. I felt his attitude was so different from the last time I saw him. Of course, it's hard knowing that it might only be temporary.
Chris grew up in foster care, moving to a few different houses with different families during his childhood. - "I was never in a stable position, I can't say I was always perfect but I didn't think I'd end up out here". There's so many like Chris, feeling like it's hard to find hope. You might not change someone's world, but you can be that hope they might need. Just connecting in a compassionate way can make a difference. #DoSomethingForNothing
"People can change anything they want to. That means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks - I am one of them. But we've all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything - this is something that I'm beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That's because they've been dehumanised. It's time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain't going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you're nothing."
- Joe Strummer
Photo by @dailymama
This is Ahmed, 60 years old.
Ahmed is from Tunisia and is good friends with Mahmoud (previous post)
Spending time with this group was a great experience. The community and friendship they share is amazing to witness. Ahmed told us he believes he's been on the street for 20 years now, saying he has lost count. He used to work before he was out here each day but didn't want to speak much about his story before. That wasn't important though. We shared smiles laughter and enjoyed each others company. Initially he asked me to just shave his head. I said that wasn't going to happen when I could make him look like Brad Pitt.
I had an incredible time doing this in Paris. Another huge thanks to @laruetourne - mobilising a team of more than 40 people to go out and help the homeless in different parts of Paris that day. If you want change, it can start with you. #dosomethingfornothing
Wherever you go in the world you'll find humanity and compassion. It's in all of us. I don't see the point in judging anyone else, it's too stressful harbouring that kind of negativity each day. Life is way too short. I really love stories, so it makes no sense for me to close the book on any person. Kindness isn't just about giving, it's about what you get in return. I enjoy solitude, but connecting with people makes me feel alive. If you get that feeling from anything in your life, pursue it.
#dosomethingfornothing by @dailymama
This is Mahmoud, 62 years old.
He arrived in France from Tunisia at 10 years old. Mahmoud says he's been living in the street for 4 years, but has a room somebody let's him use from time to time. Mahmoud studied in Paris when he was a young man, completing his university degree. He worked different jobs throughout his life until recently. We weren't sure what brought him to the street but we could see how important his personality is to everybody else in his crew. Mahmoud has this amazing nature, he's the kind of guy that spreads love, always smiling and joking. It was incredible to head out with @laruetourne today. If you haven't checked out the work then do then go follow them now. Their ethos is @dosomethingfornothing - gathering people together to love on their communities. That starts with just connecting with one another again. Merci Beaucoup @dailymama et @jeebrahil 🏼
Great to br in Paris. Winter is well and truly here, so all the more reason to stop and show those on the street we care. #DoSomethingForNothing
Huge thanks to @eurostar for getting me here.
This is Bala, 49 years old.
Bala is from northern Sri Lanka, where he grew up with his parents and siblings.
@laurentdemartini and I met him today, where he sleeps in 11th Arrondissement, just before it got dark. Bala moved to Paris twenty years ago, after his family experienced conflict from the Sri Lankan civil war. Seeing first hand the violence between the LTTE rebel group and government forces. They watched people they love die, so Bala's father sold everything they had to get out and start at a new life.
Bala worked in a hotel for the first period of his time here in France, meeting his wife and having a daughter. He has been homeless for one year now. I asked him what happened - 'I lost work for a while and lost motivation also. I was drinking more often than I ever had before, that's where It started. My attitude was bad and I wasn't treating people well.' I could see Bala now relies heavily on alcohol while he's out here. Feeling how cold it is here today I can understand why. Addiction comes in all different forms. Most of the time, the first people effected are loved ones. It was clear that Bala was hurt when speaking of his ex wife and daughter and that he misses them dearly. Bala now has community with a few other Sri Lankan guys, hurdling together to keep warm in this weather. He was happy with his new haircut, but I think he just appreciated us stopping to speak to him more than anything else.
Great to be back in Paris! I'm here in the city until next week spending some days roaming the streets. If anybody wants to come out and get involved, send me a message on here 🏼 I have to say, you guys are incredible. Thanks for all the love on my last post; your support means so much and keeps me motivated everyday.
Massive thanks to @eurostar for getting me here today to continue to #DoSomethingForNothing @laurentdemartini
London Hair & Beauty awards - Men's stylist of the year 2016 - So grateful to receive this for #dosomethingfornothing work so far. I'm proud but what makes me prouder is all you guys for supporting and believing in this movement to make a difference in your own communities. This isn't just about hairdressing, it's about how we interact with each other every day 🏼
2016 has been like no other year for me. Traveling to #dosomethingfornothing in other countries, meeting some incredible people from different walks of life.
Things aren't always easy, happiness is transient right? It can't be a constant, otherwise it wouldn't be as amazing when you have it. One things for sure, I know that even the small interactions we have with one another each day can be another to tip the scales in the right direction when I'm feeling down.
I cut this mans hair outside the GPO in Dublin. He told me an honest story of his past, speaking about the tragedy and abuse he had experienced at a young age. There was no possible way for me to take away his pain and anger at the world via a haircut. All I could do was be there, if only for a short while. I've come to realise that's enough sometimes.
I take something from every experience, but at the end of it all, I remember a persons smile. That's the most important thing for me. I make mistakes in life like anybody else, trying to learn from them as I go. It's part of being human, but I know I can't do it alone. To everyone that's made me smile this year, helped me continue this journey, supported me, or got me back on track when I've lost my way, I fucking love you.
Happy new year beautiful people, roll on 2017.
Being human is given. But keeping our humanity is a choice. #DoSomethingForNothing
This is Gary, 61 years old. Meeting Gary was an incredible experience from start to finish. Myself, @jadestreetvet @daveburt and others wanted to hit the streets before Christmas to @dosomethingfornothing - Gary and his beautiful dog Lola always pitch up around Covent Garden. Gary told us that a few days before, a passer by had booked him a 4 star hotel for 3 days over Christmas! What an amazing act of kindness. It was a perfect time to give him a fresh haircut to feel good for his nights spent in comfort. It makes me happy thinking of Gary in that hotel right now. He's been on and off the streets for a long time. @jadestreetvet is amazing, she cared for Lola whilst I cut his hair. One of the most amazing things about this year has been witnessing how others have been motivated to join this movement. It humbles me completely and gives me so much inspiration each day. Thanks to everyone else you came out that day and everybody here for constant support. Big love, roll on 2017 🏼 #DoSomethingForNothing
@dosomethingfornothing made The @evening.standard today! We had an incredible time yesterday, huge thanks to everyone that came out on the streets to raise compassion with us. @daveburt @jadestreetvet - Go team! 🏼 #DoSomethingForNothing
Be the reason someone smiles and #DoSomethingForNothing - Here is some of London's finest. They may not have anywhere to live right now but they are some of the best people I've met. If you're around in London today come and get involved: meet us between 12 - 12:30pm outside Covent Garden tube station 🏼
Wanna join in with this movement? I'll be in London tomorrow outside Covent Garden tube station at 12pm, along with the amazing @jadestreetvet and others to #DoSomethingForNothing and give our hearts for the day to those who need it. It doesn't matter if you have a skill or not, just bring yourself and get involved. Big love, hope to see you 🏼️
It's hard finding the words to describe my time in Quito with @withthesetwohandsproject - it's been a truly incredible experience for me. I've met some people I'll never forget. To the volunteers who work with @cenitecuador - massive thanks for all your help and work each day to positively effect those around you. To all the inspirational women that attended my class, I can't wait to come back to see you working as fully qualified hairdressers one day 🏼 #withthesetwohandsproject #DoSomethingForNothing
Throwback to a transformation for my pal Zack, in London, just before I came out here to Ecuador -
It was the first I had bumped into Zack for a longtime. He usually sleeps around Charing Cross area, but has recently been in hospital after getting beat up one evening by some men unknown to him.
Zack will put a smile to any situation, his positivity always inspires me every time I cut his hair. He's actually the go to guy for information to a lot of the homeless men and women in central London, always keeping up to date with where the next food drop is, or spaces in hostels. He understands the power of community, whatever your situation.
Can't wait to catch up with him and others when I'm back in London next week. Myself and the rest of the DSFN crew are going to be out in London on Wednesday December 21st. If you want to @DoSomethingForNothing then make sure you're there 🏼 I'll send out location in the next few days. It doesn't matter what you do, your time is the most important thing. DM me if you've got any questions. #DoSomethingForNothing
It's been amazing to hit the streets and @dosomethingfornothing on my days off here in Ecuador. So much love for the people I've met. I can't beat the feeling I get when I go out and do this. Think of how you can #DoSomethingForNothing where you are 🏼️
This is Miguel, 69 years old. Born in the province of Los Rios in the jungle land of south Ecuador, Miguel has lived here in Quito for most of his adult life. He was sat on a bench in Plaza Grande with his friend when we approached him. He told us - 'I spend most of my days out here on the street. I love reading and learning new things so I go to the library each day because it's free.' - Miguel had to leave school before graduating, so he says he's always tried to educate himself. We didn't find out exactly how long he has been homeless for. It was clear that alcohol plays a big part in Miguel's life now, which could be a factor in why he no longer sees his family. - 'I have nine children, they all live in different parts of the world but I don't see them anymore.' - Miguel couldn't remember the last time he went into a barber shop or salon so it was a great opportunity to show him some love. It was so nice to see people start to gather to speak with us. We told them about the #DoSomethingForNothing movement, which prompted one of the local shoe shiners to offer up his services after I'd finished cutting. It was a great moment, watching Miguel reading the paper with his new haircut, getting his shoes shined.
Another great day at @cenitecuador Today the ladies practised different blow drying techniques in preparation for their first models on Saturday! Follow and support @withthesetwohandsproject to enable this type of education to continue 🏼 #withthesetwohandsproject #DoSomethingForNothing
To help educate here has been incredible so far. I can't thank Cassandra @withthesetwohandsproject enough for giving me the opportunity. I'm enjoying every minute of it 🏼 Help support the project if you can - http://www.withthesetwohands.com.au/ (link in bio) This helps underprivileged women train as hairdressers, to provide for themselves and their families. It's amazing to see these ladies grow in confidence in such a short time. It validates the importance of community projects such as this one. #withthesetwohandsproject #DoSomethingForNothing
This is Rommel Villagomez, 67 years old.
We met Rommel in Plaza Grande in El Centro Histórico. I could tell straight away that he had fallen on hard times. His shoes had large holes in them and his clothes were extremely dirty.
Rommel was born in Quito. He is one of six children. His father was chief of police in Quito when Rommel was younger, working a lot of hours to support them. After finishing school, Rommel moved to Venezuela to find more work. It was there he met his wife and spent the majority of his working life as a maintenance manager for different hotels and hostels. Rommel has two children. One son, now living in Italy with a family of his own, and a daughter still living in Venezuela. Once his children had grown up and left, things became difficult between him and his wife so they decided to go their separate ways. Five years ago, Rommel found out his father was sick so he decided to come back to Ecuador. When his father passed, unfortunately a dispute started between his brothers and sisters over what was left behind for them. Currently they're not on speaking terms. Without any money saved, Rommel now has nothing to his name and spends his days on the streets. Luckily, he has a cousin he can stay with at the moment so he has a roof over his head for now. The last time Rommel had his hair cut was nearly a year ago so he was happy to let me give him a makeover. Afterwards, we took him for coffee and shared stories. Big thanks to @soy_wyatt for coming out with me for the day and spreading the #DoSomethingForNothing word.
Amazing first week in Quito, teaching at @cenitecuador with @withthesetwohandsproject - So happy with ladies who came and gave it their all to begin a career in hairdressing 🏼 #withthesetwohandsproject #cenitecuador #dosomethingfornothing
Hola Quito! The last few days I've been settling in and prepping for teaching at @cenitecuador this week for @withthesetwohandsproject Can't wait to get started 🏼 Follow the journey over the next few weeks. #withthesetwohandsproject
This is Steve, 34 years old. I met him near Victoria on my last day in London before heading out to Ecuador. He was with his girlfriend, who is 32. Steve has been homeless for the last 4 years. It's never easy to hear the amount of time someone has spent on the street, especially when it's years, sometimes decades. Steve's girlfriend said she's been out here more or less since she was 14 years old, but understandably struggled to speak about this in detail, saying 'It's complicated.' I can only imagine...
Steve said he's found some hope recently as it looks like he might soon have some accommodation sorted. This however, is only part of the solution. Steve, like many others, is fighting an addiction with Spice. If you haven't heard me talk about this stuff before, it's strong enough to replace drugs like heroin and leaves the user with extreme withdrawals in a lot of cases. It was a 'legal high' until a few months ago but it's still everywhere despite it not being sold in shops. Steve needs to fight a personal battle with this before he can truly start a new chapter in his life. I believe addiction is a disease and should be treated that way. I understand the difficulties when there is drug and alcohol abuse among homeless people, it's easy to see it as choice, of course their behaviour is adjusted because of this. But ask yourself, what might you turn to if you could longer count the days or weeks that you'd slept outside.
I could see Steve was happy with his haircut, but more that I'd just spent the time to acknowledge them. His girlfriend and I had to persuade him to let me put some product in his hair and style it. When he saw his transformation in the mirror I think he came around. #DoSomethingForNothing