The community centre offering free back-to-school haircuts

At a community centre that is ‘always busy’, free haircuts to children were given out on August 31. The ‘Back to School Project’ ensures children have a fresh haircut ready for when they go back to school in September.

Community workers at the Beechdale Community Centre on Ambergate Road spoke out about how the day wasn’t just about haircuts. Water bottles and stationery were given out too, putting less financial pressure on parents.

At the community event, information about the centre’s Lads and Dads programme was given out. The programme is aimed at mainly black men in the community, supporting them with their mental health.

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Diversifying Education and Communities (CIC) took over the Beechdale Community Centre this year. The community interest company has been running for more than 5 years and one of the charity’s main focuses is improving mental health.

Zion Alaybala, a 14-year-old student from Carlton, explained why the event is important. He said: “It’s good to get kids out, they can sometimes be on electronics or doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.”

Zion, who will be going back to school on September 4, added: “I really did need to get my haircut, it’s been long overdue.” More than 30 parents signed up for the ‘Back to School Project’ on the website Eventbrite.

Freddie Boakye, project lead for the event, said: “This isn’t just about free haircuts. There’s board games to play and kids can do vision boards for where they see themselves in 10 years, the centre does a lot.

“Giving the kids a new start to a new term with the haircuts came to our attention after seeing parents struggling with the cost of living and that they can’t afford certain things. We’re giving out stationary, water bottles and cereals too.”

Freddie Boakye spoke about the importance of the project
Freddie Boakye spoke about the importance of the project

Freddie continued: “Some of our volunteers have given school uniforms to parents to save them a few pounds for the month.” One of the barbers helping out at the event was Okechu Kwa Aja, who has been a barber for more than 10 years.

He said: “It was important to be here to help the students with basics needs for going back to school and helping parents with high prices. The haircuts will lessen parents’ financial burdens.”

Shanine Fasasi, the founder of Diversifying Education and Communities, who runs the community centre alongside volunteers, spoke about what’s to come from the community centre. She said: “We’re always busy.

“Our planning board takes up to November 15 and we have events all throughout the rest of the year. We’ve had a fantastic reception from the community and it’s been nice having Nottingham University students who are on placement join us too.”

The community cafe – that works under a ‘pay as you feel’ concept – is open every day at the centre and is proving to be popular.

Diversifying Education and Communities volunteers
Diversifying Education and Communities volunteers

Shanine added: “We have quite a lot planned, we have a Christmas dinner on December 15 and we’re here on Christmas Day cooking too; there are a lot of people in the community who live by themselves so, by request, we’ve decided to spend Christmas with them.”

With the ‘Back to School Project’ attracting parents’ interest, Shanine said the community centre will definitely put something similar on again. Shanine added: “We have a lot coming up for Black History Month in October and we’ve lost Doctor Rose Thompson to cancer, she was an advocate for change and we’ll be honouring her life and work.”

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