Can a haircut change your life?

Joshua Coombes is a London hairdresser who makes a big difference to homeless people's lives. Watch the video to find out more.

Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.

Transcript

Morgan Freeman: I'm in London to meet Joshua Coombes. He's a hairdresser. And he believes small acts of love can make a big impact. Joshua hopes he can help the homeless, not by offering them money or food but by giving them a haircut.

Joshua: The reason I started cutting hair on the street, initially, was actually the magnitude of the problem, like, seeing how big this problem is in each city. It's really hard to know what to do about that. And I think it was from that feeling that I had to impact today. I had to do something positive to make someone smile. And realise that even if you can't solve a problem, actually it's OK to just do your own thing. And for me, that's hairdressing. I love what I do, so it's a great way to be able to give someone confidence.

Joshua: When was the last time you had a haircut? 
Stuart: In November last year. 
Morgan: So January, February. 
Stuart: Five months to March, April.
Morgan: How do you come to be homeless, Stuart? 
Stuart: I broke my hip and they stopped my benefits. At the time, I was like, that's stupid. And I was getting involved with drugs and things. I didn't really care. And next thing I knew, they came round and said, 'Right, you're out.' That was 24th of January 2016 and I've been homeless since. 

Joshua: You see lots of things with homelessness. And there's lots of stereotypes. And really, what I do is try and humanise this issue. Because, as I said, this problem's so big, I think when you bring it down to one person and tell their story, that's a great way to start and a great way for people to understand.

For me, like, one of the most amazing moments is giving someone the mirror at the end of their haircut because it's great to see someone's reaction because they might recognise someone they haven't seen for a few years.

Morgan: Five, four, three, two, one. Ta-da.
Stuart: I'm 20 years younger. Oh my God. 
Morgan: Yeah!
Joshua: Stuart, what do you say?
Stuart: Nobody's going to recognise me.
Joshua: Mate, you're a new man right now.
Stuart: Yeah, thank you.
Joshua: How do you feel?
Morgan: Like a new man.
Stuart: Like a new man.
Joshua: Do you recognize yourself there?
Stuart: Um …

© National Geographic

Do you need to improve your English?
Whether you need better English to travel or meet new people, our online English courses will give you real practice. Join thousands of learners from around the world who are making great progress with their English level with our online courses.

Discussion

Download
Worksheet74.39 KB

Submitted by jyoti Chaudhary on Tue, 26/04/2022 - 15:10

Permalink

Is homelessness a big problem in your country? What are people trying to do to help?
yes, there is a big problem in my city center. many people don't have shelter and food or clothes, I always give food to the homeless people and some money out of my salary. there are many poor people here and it's important we give food at least for living a life.

Submitted by Hector Zavala on Fri, 08/04/2022 - 01:07

Permalink

Its an interesting topic and I liked the people that appeared in the video.

Submitted by Salguero1001 on Thu, 07/04/2022 - 19:26

Permalink

Living in a developing country, where not all the basic services are provided, homeless people are seen with frequency, I found really important that with your daily life work you can make someone smile.

Submitted by clau25xd on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 18:55

Permalink

It is cool to see how he is using his abilities to do something positive. It is so common that society looks at homeless people in a judgy way or assume that they are where they are just because they want to

Submitted by zubeir on Wed, 23/02/2022 - 14:48

Permalink

There are many homeless in my country due to economic and bad management problem, but the individuals of my country are making a lot of effort trying to put an end to homelessness by donating money and creating employment for jobless.

The homeless people are alone. The other people can ignore this problem and avoid it.
In my country was a program named Chepe Se Baña, it offers homeless people a safe place to shower

Submitted by Miguelitorico1996 on Sun, 23/01/2022 - 21:27

Permalink

I live in Colombia and there are many homeless people because it is a society full of drug use. Fortunately, there are foundations that feed them almost every night, so they don't go hungry all the time.

Submitted by danny0509 on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 03:05

Permalink

in colombia, homeless is a real problem, all our cities suffer this, the goverment does not do as mush as is needed, some non profit organizations help this people, giving them food and clothes, but this is not enough.

Profile picture for user khalid Ibrahim

Submitted by khalid Ibrahim on Tue, 31/08/2021 - 23:42

Permalink
One of the most amazing moments is giving someone the mirror at the end of "their" haircut. shouldn't be "his" haircut?

Hello khalid ibrahim,

Often, when it's not clear if we're referring to a man or woman, we use 'they' (or 'them' or 'their') instead of 'he' or 'she'.

You can see some more example sentences of this in the he, she and they section of our Personal pronouns page.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Emilinch2020

Submitted by Emilinch2020 on Tue, 27/04/2021 - 23:13

Permalink
I loved this video!! We can help people in different ways. This video show us one of them. How often do you upload new videos?

Hello Emilinch2020,

It is an inspiring video, isn't it? It's one of my favourites, too.

We create Video zone pages about once a month, though our next one is still a few weeks from being ready since we have a lot of other work at the moment. But you can find more videos like these in the Video zone on LearnEnglish Teens in the meantime if you'd like!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by May Nine on Sat, 24/04/2021 - 14:54

Permalink
There are still lots of homeless people in my country including kids and the older ones. They sleep under the crossover with the cardboards at night . But they make money for their survival in many ways (like collecting the bottles and cans to recycle , selling the flowers and foodstuffs , asking money and so on ) . The rich people and the ordinary ones are always willing to help them out . We donate money , clothes and food to them on our way . But I've never seen such that idea of the video ; Haircut. I totally agree with that idea and i love it.

Submitted by MAYAR on Mon, 15/02/2021 - 19:11

Permalink
I want to ask what is the meaning of I broke my hip? is it an idiom

Hi MAYAR,

Hips are a part of the body, at the very top of the leg. It's not an idiom. It seems Stuart had some sort of accident and got hurt.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

The hip, or hips as there are two, are large bones in the body that attach the legs. When we say 'I broke my hip', 'I broke my arm' or 'I broke my leg' we mean that we broke the bone. I hope that helps Mayar.