a conversation with… manchester mind
alott stands for “a little off the top” as in, a hair trim – a well-known phrase in barber shops and hair salons. but for us the phrase has a deeper secondary meaning. it’s about unburdening yourself of whatever is on your mind through good conversation.
mental health is a subject close to our family’s heart, which is why it’s a core pillar of our brand. we’ve partnered with manchester mind – part of the mind network of mental health charities throughout the UK – who do amazing work in our local community. we’re supporting them with 5% of all sales of our everyday shampoo. there is the option to add a £1 donation to manchester mind when purchasing alott products.
to find out more about the work that manchester mind has been doing for over 30 years and how alott can support them practically as well as financially, we had a conversation with their fundraising manager joanna huddart…
i totally appreciate a hairdresser’s or barber’s role as therapist and confidante, alongside taxi drivers, bus drivers and anybody that has day-to-day contact with the general public. it all comes back to connection and community and how we foster that. we used to call it “the third space” – places like launderettes, libraries, cafes and hairdressers which are neither home nor work, but they’re meeting points where social interaction is integral. during lockdown, we’ve all really missed having those connections as we’ve not been in the same physical spaces.
when recruiting hair stylists for RPB, our co-founder ross has always said that as well as being a dab hand with scissors, comb and clippers, it’s just as important to have people skills and be a good conversationalist. because there’s something about sitting in that chair when you’re having your hair done: people often open up in a way that they don’t even with their close friends and family. it can be almost like a therapy session…
have you noticed that the pandemic has caused a spike in demand for manchester mind’s services with more and more people struggling and needing help?the pandemic has affected us all in different ways. some people with long-term mental health issues found lockdown took the pressure off, but others have been struggling with their mental health for the first time, perhaps because they’ve lost their business or their job, loved ones have passed away, a relationship has broken down. coping with the anxiety that comes with isolation and uncertainty is very hard to manage.
we know mental health issues have always existed, but in the last 5-10 years we are talking more – within our own close circles and within society, with more people in the public eye opening up. for our grandparents, living through the first and second world wars, the british attitude of the “stiff upper lip” and “keep calm and carry on” was very prevalent, but for millennials talking openly has less of a stigma. we all wear a “mask” to some degree. you imagine when you look around that everybody else is fine, they're succeeding, happy and thriving, but underneath so many are really suffering in silence and not coping. most of us will experience a mental health issue in our life – either directly or through someone close to us. mental health doesn't discriminate in any way – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, income or post code. mental health is still quite a taboo subject for some, but people are realising that we're not always able to cope, so it's very important that we do talk about mental health to reduce that stigma. it's more important than ever that people know that it's ok to not be ok.
the alott team is hatching plans to work with you on some initiatives like providing free haircuts in the community, and potentially growing some of our natural product ingredients in the allotment you run as part of your work, but what is the one step we could all take right now to be more mental health-aware?
start that conversation. is there somebody that you've lost touch with? is there somebody that you're worried about? can you let them know that you're there for them? reach out to somebody that you're concerned about and just ask them how they are. talk about normal things, not making the conversation about their mental health, but just listen and let them know that you're there. why not also start the honest conversation with yourself: what do you need to change to better support your wellbeing this year? can you let someone know if you’re struggling, or perhaps call a confidential helpline if you’re unable yet to open up to a friend, family member or work colleague?
for over 30 years manchester mind has been there for local people with mental health issues, and they continue to offer advice, support and information remotely to 7,000 people during the pandemic. to help support this work, we’re giving 5% of all sales of our everyday shampoo to manchester mind – alongside an optional checkout donation. to find out more about their vital work, please visit manchestermind.org and call 01617695732 if you or someone you know needs mental health support.