This Brian, 42 years old.
Brian has been homeless for over two years now. He suffered a series of deaths in the family a few years ago. His mother, father and sister all died within the same year - "Its hard to come back from that, I started drinking and smoking more. Some days I find peace, but others it still hits me incredibly hard." Brian is so charismatic and great fun to be with, but I could tell there was a pain underneath that he trying to deal with.
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Brian has always travelled. When I told him I was from London, he told me many stories of years he spent there, along with many other countries throughout Europe. - "I've always been a people person, meeting people is what I love, being out here on your own isn't easy sometimes."
I got the sense that Brian has but hit a fork in the road and he'll bounce back. It had been ages since his last trip to the barbers - "Man, I was just thinking, I really need a haircut! It was totally on my to do list."
We met Brian in a busy Penn Station, with the hustle and bustle of rush hour going on around us, I loved cutting Brian's hair and getting to know him.
Cutting hair at the @bowerymission this week has been amazing. This goes out to all the staff, volunteers and residents that fill this place with hope for so many. Also to @leesasleep for sponsoring my trip and providing another mattress donation here this week, making that 10,000th since their One-Ten initiative began. Amazing work 🏼 @susanshekphotography
This is James Macklin, 76 years old.
I had the pleasure of spending time with the amazing James this week and cutting his hair. I could listen to this man all day long, his warm personality echoes through all of the residents and staff here. He recalled the moment that he found out about the @bowerymission many years ago. - "I took to riding the subway at night for warmth and shelter. It was while I was asleep on a subway train, using an old bag of cans for a pillow, that I was awoken by the soft sound of a woman’s voice. - 'What is a man like you doing in a place like this?' she asked. I lifted my head to see an older woman standing above me with her hand outstretched. Tucked between her fingers was a card for a meal at the Bowery Mission. She offered it to me just before she got off the train. Desperately hungry for a meal, I took the card and headed straight for the mission." It was that moment of kindness that changed James' life. He is now a spokesperson for the Bowery and an incredible role model of the amazing change that can be made with the right support around you.
We are all capable of providing that hope for others. You never know when your influence could positively effect somebody's life forever. #dosomethingfornothing
What an evening - A real privilege to speak at the @leesasleep dream gallery yesterday, with CEO and Co-Founder David Wolfe. Thanks so much for everybody that came along and for those who tuned in on live stream. Everything that was discussed, comes back to one thing for me - be kind. There's no better feeling.
Great to be in NYC - Cant wait for tomorrow's event at the @leesasleep dream gallery. RSVP via the link in my bio section if you want to come along. If you can't make it, tune in on Instagram live at 6:45pm EST on my channel and Leesa's. I'll be in conversation with CEO and co-founder David Wolfe - celebrating 2 years of kindness since Leesa's amazing one-ten initiative began and talking all things giving back. Hope to see you!
Sherrie is one first people I met when I went out to do street haircuts. Her hair hadn't been cut properly in so long and was all different lengths. She asked me to cut it short and neat to get her back on track.
This was way back when we were dreaming of the positive impact @dosomethingfornothing could have in our communities. Fast forward one year and it's incredible where this journey has taken us. I remember every face and every story since then.
We're all connected more than we ever have been on social media, we've got to use this to get back to those real human interactions and make time for one another again. #DoSomethingForNothing co-founders @mattspracklen and @daveburt have been instrumental in us taking this from a vision into the movement we're witnessing now. There's no "I" in team 🏼 This is about way more than just me and my journey, it's about all of us, coming together, and showing compassion to those who need it.
It's great to be in NYC now - Massively thankful to @leesasleep for bringing me out here, to keep this growing. So happy to be partnering with them. Check out the amazing giving back they do, donating thousands of mattresses' to homeless shelters here and across the U.S. - Can't wait to get started next week! @mattspracklen
For those of you who didn't catch my Instagram live video earlier - I'm heading out to New York City next week. So excited to be partnering with @Leesasleep - They are celebrating 2 years of kindness, in collaboration with @bowerymission, @rakfoundation + @artlifting - with an event at The Leesa Dream Gallery, in Soho, this monday. I'll be in conversation with CEO and Co-founder David Wolfe that evening (link in bio)
I'll also be heading out on the streets for some #DoSomethingForNothing outreach in the city🏼 @mattspracklen
Throwback - Hanging out after Miguel's haircut, in Plaza Grande, Quito #DoSomethingForNothing
This is David, 24 years old.
David and his girlfriend have been homeless for over a year and half now. This started out in Bournemouth, where they both grew up.
David had a pretty troubled upbringing after being abused heavily by his father. He then had a stepfather, but he died a few years ago. When this happened, his mum left Bournemouth to move away. David started training to be a mechanic but couldn't pay rent and keep up this training at the same time. His girlfriend comes from a very similar background. They reason they both came up to Manchester was in search of her mother, that she hasn't seen since she was six years old.
One massive reason that contributes to homelessness is a lack of infrastructure within a family. That's not anything any one of us can bank on before we enter this world. Recognising that we're all brothers and sisters, enables us to be there for one another, regardless of blood.
I sat down with David for a long time before I mentioned what I do, as I do with everybody. Doing this always gives me a better insight into how someone got to where they are. It's never as simple as choices.
As soon as I told David I was a hairdresser he said - "Yes! I haven't had it done for a year!" It was great to spend hours with him and others today.
I remember working in Athens last year with @refuaid and feeling so completely in awe of the people in Victoria Sq that day. Families, from many different countries, some not knowing where they will end up, or whether they will ever return to their home countries. All I felt was love and hope. Don't let anybody blind you. We are all human. #DoSomethingForNothing
Massive thanks to @Mekanism for bringing me out to Cancún to speak at their annual summit. They're an awesome group of people, totally committed to social good. It was great to spread the @DoSomethingfornothing word and get out on the streets during my visit. Henrico was a happy man 🏼#DoSomethingForNothing
This is Henrico, 50 years old.
I met Henrico in Parque de las Palapas, a square in where lots of people gather in downtown Cancún. When we met he was upset and searching for something - "I just fell asleep for twenty minutes and woke up and someone had stolen my books." It was sad to see him like this and the perfect opportunity to show him some kindness.
Henrico is Italian, his wife divorced him eight years ago, so he left Italy and went to South America stopping in Rio de jeniro first of all. He then moved on from Brazil and went to Colombia, then El Salvador. Speaking Portuguese, Spanish, French and English he has no problems getting to know new people. In El Salvador he fell in love with a women and started working on her fathers coffee farm for two years. Unfortunately things didn't work out between them so he moved once more to Mexico, where he intends to try stay to apply for residency.
Henrico used to live here in Cancún for two years when he was younger to train to be a scuba diving instructor. He has fond memories and decided this as good a place as any to start a new life. At present, without any money, Henrico is waiting for a lucky break. It seems these long days in limbo have taken it's toll on him, as I can see that he now relies heavily on alcohol to get him through. This doesn't make things any easier, but there's hope, I could feel it in him. What I know, is that just the couple hours we spent together turned his day around. He was buzzing during the haircut, singing, laughing and saying - "God has blessed me today." After the haircut he took us on a tour of the the local area, pointing out every building and what it is used for. Also telling me facts and stories about Mayan history. I love this guy. #DoSomethingForNothing
There's always time to #dosomethingfornothing 🏽
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 🏼
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