Groove, Groom and Grub: Agony aunt barber gives free haircuts to homeless in Islington

Mojo Stewart. Picture: Streets Kitchen

Mojo Stewart. Picture: Streets Kitchen - Credit: Archant

An agony aunt barber offers free haircuts and beard trims to homeless people in Islington – and says dancing helps lift their spirits.

Mojo Stewart works as a performer at children's birthday parties when he isn't giving out trims to anyone who wants them, including those on low incomes who aren't homeless.

He pitches up outside Angel station from 12pm to 2pm every Tuesday and then relocates to under Stroud Green Bridge, where he works from 3pm to 5pm.

Mojo started cutting hair in 2018 while volunteering at a soup kitchen in Stratford, but other volunteers didn't enjoy the "hubbub" he made by playing music and dancing while working. So he started volunteering and called it the "groove, groom and grub" initiative.

"It's not just hair cutting," he told the Gazette, "It's also about lifting people's spirits, so when I'm cutting hair I have the music going and people stop and dance with me. One lady at the Angel told me she had been diagnosed with cancer and had been depressed, and she would pop by and said this made her feel better."

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He plays songs that "befit" his age, like Blame it on the Boogie, lots of Earth Wind and Fire and even the Macarena. Mojo, who didn't disclose his age, also prepares sandwiches and cuts hair twice a week in Stratford.

"It's not a charity," he added. "I don't really believe in charity. If you want to do something just go and do it.

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"I'm not asking you to do what I do, I'm just asking you to do something. I would never have thought when I was younger I would go out on the streets and do this, but I like dancing, I seem to have a good rapport with people and now cut hair." Asked why he does it, Mojo said: "I would say depression, my own. Personally it does lift me. [...] Sometimes I feel really sad and this makes me feel really good and I have some regulars which is really nice, people who's hair I cut every two weeks and they come back to see me and talk to me. Over the past couple of weeks I found myself being a bit of an agony aunt. Homeless people stop for a chat and tell me how things are going. Sometimes I say to them: 'I'm not in a much better situation than you', but at the end of the day we are making each other feel better.

I put a smile on their faces - and if I died tomorrow I'd feel like I did something."

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