A double helping of Soup: £500 for homeless barbers and soundsystem team

A project offering free haircuts to homeless and vulnerable people in Glasgow won the community vote at Glasgow Soup on Thursday night.

The Homeless Barbers, run by Steven Thomson, will use their £500 winnings to set up a pop-up street barber shop in the city’s East End.

At the event in the Calton Heritage & Learning Centre, the second organised by charity Social Care Ideas Factory, the audience paid £5 each and then voted for the project whose pitch they supported.

During his powerful pitch Steven,  who has experienced homelessness himself, said: “You know how good you feel after you’ve had a haircut…well, a homeless person feels exactly the same.”

Speaking after his win, Steven said: “I feel great, we never expected it. All the ideas tonight were fantastic, so we didn’t think we would win. I can’t thank the community enough for supporting us. We’ll be using the money to expand the project and buy mobile hairdressing equipment such as cordless clippers.”

However, in a surprise twist to the evening, an anonymous donor handed £500 to Glasgow Soup, which allowed the Social Care Ideas Factory to gift second placed Soundsystems £500 for their youth-led project, teaching disadvantaged young people in Easterhouse how to design, build and operate a 12v bike transported sound system.

The project also teaches youngsters DJ, MC, song-writing, music promotion and event promotion skills.

Other groups pitching at the event were:

Piano City, which accepts donations of acoustic pianos and redistributes them in public spaces across the city including the East End. They also run a ‘pianos on prescription’ initiative that gives free tuition to those most in need.

Mind and Draw, a creative workshop based in the Barras that helps people deal with anxiety, self-motivation and confidence issues through the art of drawing.

Empowered Neighbourhoods, a project in Dalmarnock that empowers people with learning disabilities to live independently by helping them with tasks such as shopping or gardening.

Charlie B-Gavigan, founder and curator of the Social Care Ideas Factory, has said the Soup revolution is taking Scotland by storm.

She said: “The first ‘Soup’ was held in recession stricken Detroit five years ago as a unique way of reviving and empowering communities from the bottom up. There are new ‘Soups’ popping up all across Scotland, with events in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness.

“People all over seem to love its simplicity: you just donate £5 or more on the door, enjoy a bowl of soup and some live music, listen to local people pitch ideas that help your community, have a chat and vote for your favourite idea.”

The winner of the first Glasgow Soup was Re-Tune, a not-for-profit initiative which helps people with post-traumatic stress disorder to make positive life changes and gain new skills through making musical instruments from discarded wooden objects, including unusual items such as skateboards and broomsticks.

David McHarg, founder and manager of Re-Tune,  updated the audience on Thursday about how the £500 had made a huge difference to the project.

Soup and scones for the event were again provided by Unity Enterprise, a social enterprise which supports young people and adults with disabilities or social disadvantages through work experience, training, personal development.

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