Each day when I cut hair on the streets I meet amazing people with amazing stories. Stories that most people never get to see or hear. Stories that can warm my heart, and break it at the same time.

This is Chris. He was 21 years old when I met him and his birthday was the following day. He has no family which he can contact or be with – he has basically been entirely alone for the past 11 years. He has been on the streets and homeless since he was 10.

Yeah, I know, insane but a sad reality. I asked him how that’s possible and his reason gave me chills. “I hated having to constantly wear extra layers and warm clothing at school when it was hot” he said quietly. I asked him what he meant by that and he said that it was to cover up the bruises from getting hit by his dads. “Dads?!” I said, and he replied “Ya, both by my real dad and also my step-dad”. He elaborated and told me that he was mostly with his mom and step-dad – who was very abusive and beat him. Then his mom sent him to live with his ‘real dad’ and the abuse kept coming. There was no escape and he had more than he could take, so he took sanctuary to the streets. At the age of 11 he found himself smoking ice and eventually got into heroin too. When I met him he was very timid and shy and so the few people I was with had left, allowing for a more intimate session which allowed him to open up and be more comfortable.

However, I think it’s best that I keep what he said between us for some things are just better to stay at the shop – which are the streets to me. He had been wearing a beanie for ages which made his hair on the WHOLE back of his head into one deadlock. I had to cut away using scissors slowly and carefully. I couldn’t give him any style due to the fact that his hair was so dead. We shaved his head, then his face. It was difficult to shave his neck (under his chin) due to the open sores he had from the meth use but he insisted he wanted to clean up – so I did the best I could. We finished off with a thorough dry shampoo and aftershave treatment. He looked at the mirror and was the happiest I had seen him since I had met him – which warmed my heart. He never got the chance to properly experience a childhood, let alone his youth.

Hopefully in his 22nd year and beyond he’ll be able to start experiencing more positivity, love and happiness in his life.