Ten people standing in front of mobile hairdressing van

Mobile hairdresser secures funding to serve local communities

A new charity taking hairdressing and barber services on the road to local communities is the latest recipient of funding from East Ayrshire Council’s Renewable Energy Fund.

Cut and Connect is a mobile luxury hairdressing and barber service established by East Ayrshire Churches Homeless Action (EACHA), offering complimentary haircare and wellbeing services to disadvantaged individuals who may not otherwise have the means to access these.

Cut and Connect received £95k from the Renewable Energy Fund, funded by Scottish Power Renewables and this has been used to purchase and custom fit a vehicle with quality equipment and barista coffee station offering an inviting, safe, comfortable space for community members to attend and have their hair care needs met.

Staff running the service are trained barbers and hairdressers who will double as active listeners who can signpost customers towards additional support from local providers, if required.

Launching on 4 March, Cut and Connect will offer a range of quality stylish hairdressing services to attract and suit all ages. The project will visit 20 locations spanning the length and breadth of East Ayrshire, ensuring broad coverage to main towns and outlying villages. Each location will offer a full day of appointments which will be repeated on a monthly basis.

The project coverage will be ideal for cross-pollination of community ideas and support and encourage inter-town partnerships.

Councillor Iain Linton, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Resources and Economy and Chair of East Ayrshire Grants Committee said:

“This is an innovative use of our Renewable Energy Fund which will benefit many people in our local communities, particularly those who are elderly, unemployed, have health issues or disabilities or are affected by the isolation issues brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Cut and Connect serves a dual purpose and we see it as a disguised crisis van to help those in need. This will not compete with local businesses - some people may just not be able to afford a haircut and this is about boosting self-esteem and encouraging a little self-care and wellbeing. Whilst using this service, and if required, clients will be discretely signposted to other services they may require such as recovery, domestic abuse, benefits and so on. 

“Cut and Connect is a community initiative at heart. It is based on research and discussion with residents across East Ayrshire and is led by members of the community.”

Partnership working has been an integral part of the project and a close working relationship has been established with a range of partners by EACHA, which includes East Ayrshire Council, Police Scotland, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Ayrshire College, alongside multiple community and third sector groups and businesses, all of whom have made a commitment to support the project.

Gayle Watson, Trustee, EACHa Cut and Connect said: “The Board is delighted to announce the launch of a new charity which will serve the communities of East Ayrshire - an innovative mobile hairdressing and barber service aimed at providing luxury grooming solutions to support disadvantaged and underserved communities.

“In addition to providing grooming services, the mobile hairdressing initiative will also serve as a platform for community engagement and empowerment. This vital service is not just about haircuts – it will serve as a gateway for individuals to be signposted to other services they may require such as recovery support, benefits assistance and housing. We hope to not only transform appearances but empower and uplift communities.”

Sergeant Paul Tomkinson of Police Scotland said:  "As a police sergeant dedicated to Partnerships and Community Wellbeing, I am proud to be part of the innovative Cut and Connect project, aiming to be a catalyst to empower isolated rural communities in East Ayrshire. By offering free hair care and high-quality coffee, in collaboration with statutory partners and the third sector, we seek to not only enhance physical appearance but also uplift spirits, foster community support, and pave the way towards a stronger, more connected society. Together, we believe that a simple haircut, a chat and a warm cup of coffee can ignite empowerment and resilience within the community.”

Notes to editors

Editor notes

The Renewable Energy Fund (REF) is a fund set up and administered by East Ayrshire Council to distribute developer contributions from wind farm developments within East Ayrshire.

Applications to the REF are welcomed from constituted voluntary and community groups; social economy or social enterprise projects or from local authority or other agencies (only where the project is community based, is new and does not represent a substitution of core business activities).