The Exmouth hair salon setting out to snip away loneliness by being a 'home from home'

PUBLISHED: 17:14 06 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:48 16 July 2018

Clockwise from back left: Shirley Rayner, Sue Allinson, Christine Stredwick, Charlotte Brokkes, Freda Jackson, Melissa Sween, Rachel Flynn,, Mrs M. Pym, Mary Finch, Gillian Lewis and Mrs Tozer. Picture by Laura Brainwood

Clockwise from back left: Shirley Rayner, Sue Allinson, Christine Stredwick, Charlotte Brokkes, Freda Jackson, Melissa Sween, Rachel Flynn,, Mrs M. Pym, Mary Finch, Gillian Lewis and Mrs Tozer. Picture by Laura Brainwood

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National loneliness charities have heralded an Exmouth hair salon's new initiative to snip away social isolation 'the perfect solution'.

Charlotte Brookes. Picture by Laura Brainwood.Charlotte Brookes. Picture by Laura Brainwood.

One of Exmouth’s longest-trading hair salons, Head 2 Head, on Exeter Road, is soon to be renamed The Living Room Hair and Beauty, as part of plans by its new owner to tackle loneliness in the town.

Charlotte Brookes, 29, bought Head 2 Head earlier this year after ‘falling in love’ with the salon and its elderly clients, many of whom live on their own.

She said: “Some of the ladies who come in only see us every week and it breaks my heart. It only seems to be at Christmas you see adverts showing older people sat by themselves – but these people are sat there all year by themselves.”

Charlotte is keen to communicate that loneliness affects people of all ages and challenge stereotypes.

Clockwise from back left: Shirley Rayner, Sue Allinson, Christine Stredwick, Charlotte Brokkes, Freda Jackson, Melissa Sween, Rachel Flynn,, Mrs M. Pym, Mary Finch, Gillian Lewis and Mrs Tozer. Picture by Laura BrainwoodClockwise from back left: Shirley Rayner, Sue Allinson, Christine Stredwick, Charlotte Brokkes, Freda Jackson, Melissa Sween, Rachel Flynn,, Mrs M. Pym, Mary Finch, Gillian Lewis and Mrs Tozer. Picture by Laura Brainwood

She said: “I want to get everybody together and talking and there not be this great divide. Why wouldn’t you want to go where your Nan goes? Why wouldn’t you want to socialise or talk to the older people in society and come together?

“I wanted to be a stylist for Vogue, but this is the most rewarding thing that I could ever do. These ladies appreciate what you do more than anything and they are my friends; they don’t just want their hair done, they want to spend time and chat.”

As well as having a chat and a laugh with clients, Head 2 Head hairdressers are happy to assist those with mobility issues, call taxis for those hard of hearing and even put earrings on for ladies who request it.

Charlotte said: “I want all of the older ladies to feel as comfortable and happy as they can; you come here, you’re comfortable, you talk to your friends - it’s a home from home.”

Mrs Bedwell, 101, has been a loyal customer of the salon for more than 40 years. Picture contributed.Mrs Bedwell, 101, has been a loyal customer of the salon for more than 40 years. Picture contributed.

Katy Szita, of Contact the Elderly, said: “So many older people live alone and slowly sink into the trap of social isolation. Initiatives like Charlotte’s are exactly what’s needed if we are going to effectively tackle the epidemic of loneliness. There are thousands of isolated older people living in Exmouth and the surrounding area.”

Executive director of the Campaign to end Loneliness, Laura Alcock-Ferguson, said it was ‘really, really positive’ Charlotte was ‘creating an environment where small moments of connection can flourish’.

Charlotte is donating her personal tips for June to the Exmouth Memory Café, and they have thanked her for the ‘wonderful’ gesture.

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