When Craig Henderson opened Craig’s Barbershop in Bolton in 2018 he noticed that people with additional needs needed a more tailored approach to a haircut.
When contacted by a specialist nursery in his local town, he began working with them to de-sensitise the children based there to the haircut experience.
“I work with children with additional needs daily, and the benefits are so rewarding to help alleviate stress from parents and the experience is just incredible,” Craig explains. “It’s fascinating seeing how their minds work; if I have to sit and doodle on the floor with them or watch a tablet on the wall outside, I do what is needed as a haircut can be done anywhere, it doesn’t need to be done in the chair.”
For the parents that visit Craig’s shop, even a simple fringe trim can be a huge accomplishment for their child. The patience, understanding and relaxed environment has worked wonders so far, in turning children’s traumatic haircut experiences, into positive moments shared as a family. In fact, he’s been nominated for a Pride of Britain and Beyond Business Award for his work in the community.
When working with children with additional needs, Craig ensures that he has an array of combs and brushes for the children to touch, feel and play with. He has even gone as far as to have a pair of scissors and a set of clippers modified, so the blades are dulled and softened, so that the children can feel the tools and become more relaxed.
“I also have action cards which help to explain the journey of a haircut,” he says. “They have emotions, tools and the stages of a haircut. These are amazing for my non-verbal clients”.
Now, contacted by multiple schools, Craig makes regular visits to schools and nurseries to ensure that all children can receive a great haircut, regardless of the environment.
Most recently, Craig has been working with a residential care home, as one of his regular clients was admitted during the second lockdown. After multiple requests from him, the care home contacted Craig. “The experience was really unique because most of the residents had Dementia or Parkinson’s Disease, so you have two very different experiences when cutting hair.” Craig learned the stories of the residents and built a bond with each of them, really making a difference to their stay.
“I do this work on top of running my shop, because I feel I can make small differences to awesome people,” Craig explains. “It’s priceless, it’s only a few hours of my day, but makes such a difference to other people.”