Looking beyond the label

Isn’t it amazing how one conversation can make you rethink your perspective on things? I had two such chats on Sunday while I was working on an article for Edinburgh Evening News The piece was about a local hairdresser and his project ‘Social Cuts’ which aims to help homeless people by giving them haircuts free of charge.

The 3 or so weeks leading up to this were a mixed bag on the old job front. One week began with a trip to Glasgow to join the Kaye Adams Programme for a discussion on texting do’s and don’ts. In the following few days I was stacking shelves with Easter eggs, bog roll and sensitive lube while reading another job rejection during break time. They say variety is the spice of life right?

Remaining positive can often be a challenge, no matter how many lavender scented candles or meditation apps you invest in. To help me sleep some nights, I’ve actually tried out this Australian wifey on YouTube who talks to you in a super relaxing voice about going on a voyage to another dimension. Not sure how effective it was because while she was banging on about suspended gravity and deep breathing, I was wondering where my passport was.

Then I went on to complete a week of work experience which provided me with some firm confirmation: this IS what I want to do. I wrote articles on a range of topics including plastic pollution, why the young and especially, female, should get involved in science and the best places to satisfy a sweet tooth in Edinburgh. Needless to say, I had a fantastic week and on Monday morning as I put out the newspapers in my store, I had a wee smile knowing that my name sat snuggled amongst the pages on the shelves that day.

To write the ‘Social Cuts’ article I visited the salon to speak to some of the homeless people who were receiving free haircuts. I met two people who, despite a whole host of adversities, were two of the friendliest and upbeat individuals I’ve ever met.  They told me about various difficult situations they have been in and some of the choices they’ve made along the way. In amongst the serious chat, the woman and I laughed as we discovered our shared interest in scary films, mine leaning toward the zombie genre and hers towards the paranormal. The couple, who currently live in temporary accommodation, are working towards securing jobs and a permanent home and told me that their goal was to live simple happy lives ( with some possible paranormal investigations on the side). I left the salon reassessing many things: the way homeless people are often negatively prejudged, trivial arguments I’d had with people and the number of positive things in my life at the moment.

We’re all guilty of judging people too quickly – homeless or not. However, if you consider that last year almost 35,000 homeless applications were made in Scotland alone, projects like Social Cuts are vital if we are to break down the stereotypes that place homeless people on the outskirts of society. Every person in this world has a story to tell and if you scratch the surface just a little, you often find that the narrative beneath isn’t as simple as you might think. We’re all fighting a battle one way or another but while we do that we need to maintain our humanity and pay forward some kindness to others wherever we can.

Whenever you find yourself feeling a little (or a lot) lost, sometimes a change of perspective is all you need.




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