HJ Men News

First Lions Barber Academy Launched – And It’s So Much More Than Hair

by chloe / last updated February 15, 2022

Tom Chapman Lions Barber Academy

Tom Chapman warmly welcomes the first Lions Barber Academy. Every hair professional has multi-tasked as a ‘therapist’ at least once in their career, but internationally accredited barber, Tom, is taking it one step further.

After losing a friend to suicide, Tom, a former South Devon College student, set out to do something to help prevent others from taking their own lives, and so was born The Lions Barber Collective.

The partnership between the college and The Lions Barber Collective aims to incorporate suicide prevention training into barbering as well as hair and beauty qualifications.

Tom Chapman Lions Barber Collective

L-R Nikki Boone, head of tutorial and learner progress, Matt Harbour, vice principal, Tom Chapman, founder of Lions Barber Collective, Karen Mangan, hairdressing lecturer, Shelly Lee, head of curriculum hair, beauty, music and performance and Maria Woodger assistant principal.

“It’s a huge privilege to launch the first Lions Barber Academy at South Devon College where I was a student. Our aim is to create a non-judgemental environment, to recognise signs of mental health suffering and signpost individuals to the support they need. Training these students is the only way to create a legacy of long-standing, real change,” said Tom.

In his presentation at the launch, attended by students, college staff and local employers, Tom explained that 72% of those who take their own lives have had no contact with mental health services in the 12 months before their death, but have probably had a haircut.

“If we can reach out to those people, of which the majority are men, then we can hopefully prevent more people taking their own lives,” he said.

The multi-award winning training teaches the four pillars of RECOGNISE, ASK, LISTEN and HELP to HELP. Bridging the gap between the communities the hair industry serves and the professionals and charities available to them.

Tom Chapman Lions Barber Academy

Tom Chapman and students from South Devon College.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be the first college to launch the Lions Academy,” said Matt Harbour, deputy principal and CEO at South Devon College.

“It is absolutely invaluable to have this kind of innovation and industry insight fed back into the College. We’re excited to be able to deliver The Lions Academy training to our barbering, hair and beauty staff and students. This will equip them for the conversations they will inevitably have with their future clients and hopefully will provide the tools they need to identify signs of suicidal thoughts and ultimately to save lives.”

Full time Level 2 Barbering student, James Webb agrees the Academy will help him in his future career: “It was great seeing Tom Chapman talk about the charity in person. I learnt a lot from it and will definitely make a big difference in the future for me, where I’ll hopefully have set up my own shop.

Tom Chapman Lions Barber Academy

Tom Chapman with Maria Woodger, assistant principal of South Devon College and students.

As a barber or hairdresser, you see clients regularly, get their life story, and hear about their problems. Especially men in general, they get very personal and feel like they can talk to you about a lot more.”

The Lions Barber Academy at South Devon College was launched on the eve of Time to Talk Day; the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Set up by the mental health charity Mind, it’s a day that friends, families, communities and workplaces come together to talk, listen and change lives.

Tom’s plans don’t stop here, The Lions Barber Collective has already grabbed the attention of big brands everywhere. Read here to find out more.

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