When Ged King left the Tank Regiment, he struggled with the transition into life on civvy street. Eventually he trained up as a barber and opened his own successful barbers shop, but he still felt like something was missing.
That's when he began to give out free haircuts to the homeless, and the Skullfades Foundation was born.
“Everyone who sits in the chair, they’re in a bad state,” Mr King told Forces News. “The shoulders are down, their head’s down.
"The first thing I’ll do is pull their shoulders back and I’ll lift the chin up."
“Motion creates emotion; the way we use our bodies determines how we feel.
So we use that knowledge, in conjunction with our skill as barbers to give people a lift… We give them this lift through the haircut and the positive interaction.
And then once they’re in that good state, we say okay, so this is available, that’s available. Let’s get you into a drug programme. Let’s get you into a bed every night. Let’s get you engaged with the charities.”
Mr King now trains the homeless in barbering skills and, once a year, the Skullfades Foundation runs a huge event in central Manchester to help those on the streets, handing out sleeping bags and food as Christmas approaches.
Veterans are well represented amongst the volunteers: 97-year-old Frank Tolley flew Lancaster bombers in the Second World War and ex-servicemen Dan and Jody raised over £4,000 to buy much of the kit being handed out.
“Jody rang me up one day and said, ‘I got a really good idea to walk from London to Manchester to raise money,’” Dan told Forces News.
“So I was ready to go sort of that week, wasn’t I!?” he added, looking at his friend.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Beth, a young woman who has been homeless for about a year.
Her sleeping bag got wet outside Sainsbury’s recently but thanks to the Skullfades Foundation’s supplies, she thinks she will be able to get a warm night’s sleep again:
“I think they’re lovely, aren’t they? No words!”
“Thank you very much, thank you very much!” one man repeated, tapping his heart as he did so.
“It’s absolutely, absolutely brilliant man,” said another lady, as she sat for a haircut.
“ABSOLUTELY brilliant, man!”