Megan Filmer and Gail Sargent have been looking for ways to offer their hairdressing skills to the wider community.
As a volunteer with Hair Aid, Ms Sargent has shared her knowledge with aspiring hairdressers in the Filipino capital, Manila, but now wanted to do something closer to home too.
It wasn’t until a customer visited their salon and told them about Ricky’s Place at Bega’s St John’s Anglican Church that it all clicked for the hairdressers.
Through Hair Aid, Ms Filmer and Ms Sargent are offering free haircuts to disadvantaged locals at Ricky’s Place, as part of a nationwide effort of the volunteer organisation.
Hair Aid works overseas and locally to provide hairdressing skills to give disadvantaged people a stepping stone toward long term study and employment.
Last year, the organisation introduced the Community Cuts program, offering free haircuts to people who could not otherwise afford them.
Ricky’s Place coordinator Sharon Zweck said they were always looking for new ways to help the disadvantaged, and she was delighted to hear from the hairdressers.
For Ms Filmer, it’s about providing a service that feels out of reach for some.
“A haircut seems like a luxury when you’re trying to get food on the table or hit with a big electricity bill, but it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to feel good about how you look,” she said.
And while it might not be the first thing on the priority list, Ms Sargent said a haircut can really help a person’s confidence, especially if they’re heading into a job interview or a court case.
“If you present better, you feel better about yourself, and that can make a really big difference in stressful situations,” she said.
So far, four people have booked in for a haircut at Ricky’s place next week, which will be offered on a quarterly basis.
Ms Sargent said these were not clients that would usually come through their salon doors in Bega, but they still need the service.
“As a hairdresser I enjoy making people feel good about themselves, whether they are a paying customer or not, that’s why I do my job,” she said.
Ms Filmer said making customers feel better goes beyond a wash and a cut.
“My clients are like my family, they tell me things they don’t tell their friends or partners,” she said.
“They say hairdressers are unqualified psychologists, and I think listening to our clients is a really big part of what we do and why people see us.”
Ms Filmer and Ms Sargent said this was an element they would bring to the Community Cuts service at Ricky’s Place next week.
They are encouraging other hairdressers to volunteer with Hair Aid so they can expand the service, adding it would be a great opportunity for retired hairdressers or those starting out in their apprenticeship.
The first Community Cuts service will be at Ricky’s Place, St John’s Anglican Church in Bega from 4pm on Monday, September 25 and available to Ricky’s Place clients.