The past couple of years haven’t been the easiest for those in the hair industry, with the national lockdowns forcing businesses to close, and some left unable to access support from the government. Fast-forward a few years and the industry is now facing a new crisis, as a result of the rise in energy bills. However, Phil Allen hasn’t let these hurdles hold him back – in fact, Phil has faced a whole host of challenges, all of which he has channelled into something positive. MB sat down to chat with him about how he’s managed to turn the tables and help others through his community support work.
Phil has been a barber for over 20 years – a career which was prompted by his grandfather encouraging him to develop a skill. However, it wasn’t until the start of this year that he opened up his own barbershop, Frankie’s – named after his son, whom he has been unable to see for the past six years.
Frankie’s Barbershop has become a lifeline to members of its community, thanks to the community fridge scheme Phil operates from within the business. Speaking to Phil about how the idea came about, he said: “It came from my own experiences. I lived in London for a while, and when I came back to Belfast, I was homeless. I had nothing, and relied on food banks myself, so I know what it is like to be in that situation.”
The scheme is a part of a wider programme, known as ‘The Food for Fans Foundation’. Phil explains: “It’s a football-based scheme that I have become involved in and run from the shop. Members of the community and local businesses donate food to me, which I then store and distribute.
“I started participating in it back in March – and it has been busy since day one. People can just pop in and get stuff – there is no shame in reaching out and telling people you are struggling.”
Discussing the response, he adds: “It has been humbling. I never realised how many people are struggling, from young families to the sick and old.”
He believes that barbershops are particularly well-placed to offer support to others, explaining: “The barbershop is a great place to talk things over, which makes it a great community hub. People can come and talk to me in confidence, everything is kept private.”
Now that he has witnessed how many people his work can impact, he is committed to continuing the scheme. “I will keep going with this for as long as I am alive. I will keep on pushing,” he said.
We would love to hear from you if you have been supporting your community through your barbering business. Message us on Instagram @modernbarbermag to let us know what you’ve been up to.