Joshua Coombes (@joshuacoombes)

Joshua Coombes

Hairdresser / Musician #DoSomethingForNothing ✉️ josh.coombes@hotmail.com 📌 London U.K.

  • posts490

This is Kerry, 46 years old.
He is from the west of Wales and has been homeless in London for one month now, arriving here after his wife and him split - "Things got really hard between us. She suffers from bi-polar, our personalities clashed sometimes. It got to the point where we just couldn't carry on. I came here to look up my brother. I lost contact with him a long time ago, maybe ten years now. But it turns out he's moved on."
Kerry used to work restoring houses for many years, then trained to be a chef. This is what he'd like to continue doing -
"I suppose being from a small town in Wales, it's a bit of a shock being here. I spent most of my life there, but I did have some work here in the city for a year when I was younger."
Kerry doesn't drink or use drugs, he just concentrates on getting a good meal. I bumped into him in Victoria yesterday as part of or @dosomethingfornothing day in London. I know cutting hair is a great way to get to know somebody, but anybody is capable of listening if you have the time. That is the most important thing I think, just stopping to begin with, finding out how someone is doing. It's not just about homeless people, it's community and being there for one another. Kerry was full of smiles after the haircut - "I know I'll get back on my feet, I've just got to use this time to think and move forward." #DoSomethingForNothing

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"These are scary times."
Say it enough and you'll believe it.
These are beautiful times.
You just have to choose to see them. ~ @realhumanist #dosomethingfornothing #phillystreetcuts 📷: @phillyunknown

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Speaking about @DoSomethingForNothing on our commercial conscience panel at @Adweek Europe yesterday. Big thanks to The Lighthouse Company for having us. #DoSomethingForNothing #AWEurope

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I got asked on a panel at @Adweek Europe today - 'What are your proudest moments since #DoSomethingForNothing began?' - and it's this right here. Showing somebody they've still got it, there is hope. You may feel forgotten and unheard by some, but not today and not now this movement keeps on growing.

Listening to each other has gone out of fashion, but we're bringing it back. Human connection is what it's about. Today I can provide hope for someone. Tomorrow I might need it from you. 📷 @mikewhiter

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You don't have to solve a problem, just try and make a start. #DoSomethingForNothing 📷 @mikewhiter

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"When I was in the army, I couldn't have ever pictured myself living on the street." - John #DoSomethingForNothing

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This is John, 52 years old.

John was born in Whitechapel, London. He grew up with three brothers and two sisters. This large family was spilt open when John’s mother died. As I started cutting his hair, he told me more - “I was 10 years old when it happened. I realised, when I grew up a bit, that my mother was actually a functioning alcoholic for a long time, that led her to a lot of health problems. My older siblings tell me how much she used to drink”

John’s father brought them up on his own for the next three years, but he passed away when John was 14 - “After my dad went, it was down to my older sister. She did everything she could, bless her. I left home at 16.” John is a carpenter and joiner by trade and had no problems finding work for a long time, but he was honest with me about his own struggles in battling addiction throughout his life - “Heroin. I wish I never tried the stuff. It’s burdened me for so long. I was exposed to it in my early twenties. I didn’t search to try it, but I didn't resist. It’s just, once it takes hold of you, it’s easy to forget everything and who you are.” John spent some time in Prison a couple of years ago. He got clean from Heroine and moved on to methadone prescriptions, which he still takes to this day. I asked John why he was sentenced - “One of my sisters called me up, she was having problems with her new boyfriend at the time, the guy was hitting her. I should have taken a breath but I acted on emotions and beat him up pretty bad. Of course I regret it now. I’ve been homeless since I got out of Prison, this isn’t where I want to be. I’ve had plenty time to think about it.” During the haircut I really felt his spirits lifting. People stopped and John got compliment after compliment, I love that.
If you want to help others, you don’t have to solve someones problems immediately, start with a smile. #DoSomethingForNothing

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"Punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human beings." ~ Joe Strummer

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Forget most of what you have been told; there's nothing cooler than being kind.
#DoSomethingForNothing

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This is Jason, 46 years old.
He has been homeless for nearly a year now. Jason used to work tiling roofs for long time. At the beginning of last year ago he had an accident and life hasn't been the same since. One day on the job, he fell of a roof, which put him in a coma for six weeks. Most of his injuries have healed, but he still suffers from back pain.
Needless to say, he couldn't continue working and had to claim money from the government. It wasn't enough to keep him in the same place so he was moved into a shared hostel accommodation. This situation didn't last very long until he became homeless.
I spoke to Jason's friend that looks out for him on the street to find out more - "Jason hit his head also, he needs a bit of looking after each day now. Some days he's fine, other days you can tell he's not really with it. He had a minor stroke too, so his state of health makes it difficult for him to find work now."
Whilst cutting, I spoke to Jason about his time out here - "The first few months were the toughest, I was sleeping wherever I could. When night fell, I'd usually pick an alleyway, walk down it sleep behind a building somewhere, hopefully under cover. The good thing is I've have found another hostel to stay in from time to time now. I do ask people for money, but that's because I don't have another option at the moment." Sometimes just a simple twist of fate can change someone's path in life.
#DoSomethingForNothing

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He ain't heavy, he's my brother.
#DoSomethingForNothing

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Chris in Victoria yesterday. #DoSomethingForNothing

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This is Jonathan, 26 years old.
Jonathan approached me as I was walking through Penn Station, asking me if I wanted to buy a train ticket from him. We spoke for a while before I told him I'd like to give him a free haircut instead.
Jonathan grew up in Jersey City. He's been homeless for three years now. I asked if he had any family around still - "I grew up with my brothers in different foster homes. They put us together when they could, but we were in separate houses for a while. I don't know my mother or father. My older brother lives in Boston and has a family of his own. My younger brother isn't with us anymore. He died from an overdose a couple years back." I could feel Jonathan's pain when speaking about his family, especially his late brother. It's always difficult to know whether you should open up these conversations, but I think someone will say when they don't want to talk about it.
It's more important to give them the chance, because that can begin the healing process.

Jonathan used to work in Manhattan for a while - "I was working at a BBQ joint in Midtown, it wasn't the best job but it paid the bills for my room in Jersey. It used to take me an hour and twenty getting into work, that was never going to last. I lost my job for being late too often. I tried to look for more work but after a few weeks money was a big problem. I knew I'd been ignoring bills but it happened so suddenly. One day I came home and all my stuff was outside the house. I'd been given the boot without any notice."
I understand why it could be intimidating when people approach you like this. I know it's difficult to listen to everyone each day. But we can all treat people with dignity, acknowledging each other as human, that's a good start. #DoSomethingForNothing

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Throwback to cutting James' hair at the @bowerymission in NYC - I could have listened to this man all day.
#DoSomethingForNothing

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Hold on.

#DoSomethingForNothing

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This is Joe, 39 years old.
Born in upstate New York, he used to work in construction for a long time. One year, work got harder to come by and eventually Joe was laid off from his job. It was at this point that things became more difficult at home.
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“It was tough, I started bringing in less money than my wife, I couldn’t provide the same way I did before. This effected our relationship after a while. One day she told me that she had met someone else.” It was four years ago that Joe and his wife divorced. They have an eleven year old son, who stayed with her after they split. Joe started drinking and it wasn’t long before he ran out if of money.
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“Sometimes when I ride the subway at night to keep warm. I’ll fall asleep, wake somewhere and think - how did I get to this point?? I know perhaps I could have done things differently, but you can’t picture yourself becoming homeless. The first nights out on the street were upstate where I lived. Up there, up there it's a whole different thing, the services are pretty non existence so I made my way down to New York City."
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Spending time with Joe was awesome, we had real conversations. I know he wants to re-build his life and see his son again - He left saying "Thanks man, I feel human again." #DoSomethingForNothing

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Making someone laugh or smile won't solve their problems. But it's a damn good place to start.
#DoSomethingForNothing || 📷 @susanshekphotography

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This goes out to an incredible group of Women - my class when I went to teach hairdressing in Quito, Ecuador for @withthesetwohandsproject a few months ago. These ladies dedication and effort to gain new skills to provide for their families and create new opportunities for themselves in their communities, was inspiration to witness. Also, to the amazing lady that founded this programme and pours her heart into it each week, @wellerwoman thank you 🙌🏼
#internationalwomensday #withthesetwohandsproject #dosomethingfornothing

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This is Joey, 24 years old.

I literally just met Joey, outside Penn station, 7th ave in Manhattan. I'm sat in a cafe writing this, minutes after we parted ways.
Joey has been homeless for six months. Originally from Long Island, he served in the Air Force for a four year period, which finished a couple years ago. He was stationed in Florida then Turkey - "I enjoyed my time in the Air Force but after four years I was done. Many people I know struggle to know what to do with themselves when they leave the military. I guess I was the same."
Joey started talking to me honestly about his youth - "My father had addiction problems. Well, I think he still does... I remember finding different bags of powder when I was a teenager. I was exposed to that pretty early."
While I was cutting hair, a few people stopped and gave Joey a few bucks. I asked him what he needs it for - "You know, there are so many people on the street, but it's a lonely place to be. It's hard to find community out here. I'll be honest, I'm using right now. I wanna face the music and stop but I don't see how at the moment..."
Addiction. One of the most misunderstood subjects in my opinion. None of the users I meet out here are having good time. There's a fundamental difference between recreation and dependancy. As soon as you shame someone for using, it only makes the problem worse. I believe love and compassion are the best approach. To quote a book I'm reading by Johann Hari - 'The opposite of addiction isn't sobriety, it's connection.' - I truly believe that.
The loneliness Joey was speaking of is what so many people face, trying to fill this void with substances. Re-connection and community are key.
Joey had a great energy, with positive thoughts about the future. I know he'll get back on his feet, I can feel it 👊🏼 #DoSomethingForNothing

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Cheers @buzzfeed for coming out to capture recent #DoSomethingForNothing street work in NYC 🇺🇸✌🏽
It was so good to meet all of the people in this video. You guys have read some of their stories now. I can't wait to head back out again in the city again this week!
A huge thanks to @Leesasleep for this trip, it's a pleasure to be working on partnership with them and to see first hand the huge impact their One-Ten mattress donations do for shelters in community. It provides homeless men and women with a comfortable nights sleep and to dream for the future.

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Help my pal @samuelhuntergalloway tell an eye opening story, to help shine light on an ugly underworld. Dog fighting is real and happening, we just don't see it. Support his first feature film MUTT by visiting - https://pozible.com/project/mutt (link in bio)
#animalrights #indiefilm

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This is Gregory, 53 years old.
Born and raised in North Carolina, before moving to Florida where he spent many years.
Gregory arrived in D.C. only a couple of months ago, telling me he came meet some friends that he thought were here in the city. He never found them. He's been homeless and sleeping on the streets since then.
Gregory then told me that he has always suffered with mental health problems - "I'll be honest, I've never had a real job, only part time things here and there. It's difficult with my condition, I forget a lot of things and can't interact with other people some days." I know a haircut isn't solving all of somebody's problems, but this has given me the chance to spend time with people like Gregory, that I wouldn't have normally thought to do. But the core of what's really happening here, is just a conversation to see how someone's doing... how easy is that? We all do that each day in our lives. It's about stretching that conversation and time to include other people in our daily norm. #DoSomethingForNothing

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Forget defining the privileged and underprivileged. Recognising that we're all here together, that's the best way to give. #DoSomethingForNothing 📷@the_brittjames

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Following on from yesterday's post, I really appreciate everyone's support on this! As soon as you're made aware of how apparent dog fighting is, across many different countries, it's hard to not want to help. Although it may be shocking to hear, there are people trying to combat this. Help support my pal @samuelhuntergalloway make his film MUTT - to highlight and raise awareness around the issue.
Visit his page - https://pozible.com/project/mutt (link in bio)
#animalrights #indiefilm

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This is Conrad, 67 years old.
We saw Conrad laid out on the corner of 13th and Walnut St, in Philadelphia. He looked like he needed some love, so we offered him food and anything else he might need help with.
The sun had come out and it was getting warm in Philly that day. It was good timing to give him a fresh shave. I took a few of Conrad's layers off, which he'd clearly had on since staying out here the night before.
There weren't many words exchanged during our time together. Conrad just sat and relaxed with his eyes closed.
Him shaking my hand afterwards was enough for me. #DoSomethingForNothing #PhillyStreetCuts

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Love your brothers and sisters.

It doesn't matter what you do with the rest of your life, if you have compassion, empathy and respect for others, you'll live a good one. I don't have a faith. My truth comes from connecting with others and the world around us. Wherever you get your motivation, to move forward with life each day, take time to listen to others. At the end of it all, these moments matter more than anything you could ever buy.
#DoSomethingForNothing
#PhillyStreetCuts
📷 @the_brittjames

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Recently, I've been been made aware of how apparent dog fighting is across many different countries. It's shocking to hear but there's great people trying to combat this. Help support my pal @samuelhuntergalloway to make his film MUTT - to highlight and raise awareness around the issue.
Visit his page - https://pozible.com/project/mutt (link in my bio section also)
#animalrights #indiefilm

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