19 June 2024

Parish giving people dignity with style through affordable haircuts 

Maree Slegers helps cut and style a woman’s hair. Picture: The Reverend Rob Koren 

Maya Pilbrow 

28 September 2023

An Anglican parish is helping community members look and feel their best at low cost by providing haircuts on a “pay what you can” basis. 

The Anglican Parish of St Matthew’s Glenroy with St Linus’ Merlynston wanted to help disadvantaged community members feel confident and comfortable despite rising costs of hairdressing services. 

It forms part of the parish’s community outreach efforts, and helps the parish fulfil their mission of helping the disadvantaged within their local area. 

Parishioner Maree Slegers lent her hairdressing expertise on Saturday 23 September to the parish’s new “pay what you can” community initiative.  

Anybody who wanted a haircut could show up, have a cup of tea while they waited, and then receive hairdressing services in exchange for however much money they felt like giving. 

Ms Slegers, who has been a hairdresser for 29 years, said haircare was important for making people feel confident and good about themselves.  

But she said she knew many people were having trouble making ends meet, especially families with children. Mrs Slegers said pricey haircuts were often the first thing people cut out of their budgets during hard times. 

Hairdressing and personal grooming services have not been exempted from inflation, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting 7.1 per cent inflation for such services between June 2022 and June 2023. 

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Ms Slegers and one of her colleagues cut and dried hair and gave styling tips to roughly 20 clients over four hours. Families with children and older people were among the community members who showed up.

She said $540.15 was raised, with some clients paying far more than the full price of a haircut. The proceeds will go towards the parish foodbank

Ms Slegers said it was rewarding to cut people’s hair and give them tips on how to maintain and style their hair. 

“If I can pass on a skill and be able to educate the client on how to make themselves feel better every single day, that’s always a big thing for me,” she said. 

Parish priest the Reverend Rob Koren said the haircuts were a chance to feel pampered and taken care of for community members who might not otherwise be able to afford luxury hairdressing services.

Mr Koren said Ms Slegers put time and effort into helping people, giving them useful tips on how to maintain their new haircuts at home using low-cost products available from supermarkets. 

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Mr Koren said he was grateful for passionate parishioners like Ms Slegers who were willing to invest in helping others. 

He said another hairdressing day with Ms Slegers was being planned for late January, so families with kids about to go back to school could access affordable haircuts. 

Mr Koren said more “pay what you can” programs would be run in the future, with people contributing what they were able to in exchange for second-hand clothing or help with gardening. 

He said the initiative was inspired by a desire to help people in practical ways. 

“It’s about giving someone the dignity to be able to pay for something they need,” he said. 

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