Christmas Day was a bit of a busman’s holiday for Kirkcaldy barber Mark Reynolds – as he spent the day cutting the hair of around 50 homeless people in Edinburgh!
But Mark (43), along with friend Jamie Steele (26), who helped organise and collect 120 black sacks full of quality used clothing to distribute on the day, wouldn’t have had it any other way.
It’s something Mark, who arrived in Edinburgh from California five years ago, has done every Christmas since he came to Scotland and got involved with Crisis, the UK charity which helps single homeless people by offering year-round education, employment, housing and well-being services.
He explained: “When I arrived Christmas was just around the corner. I had no pals in Scotland yet, I didn’t have money to fly home to California and didn’t want to be a bother to anyone in Ireland where I have great friends.
“I went online and searched ‘volunteer Xmas Edinburgh’ and the very first result was Crisis at Christmas. I clicked to the site and the first thing I read was “barber needed.” The application process was basic and I was approved the same day.”
And this year, as well as cutting hair, Mark enlisted the help of friends and clients to collect quality used clothing, as well as over £1000 in cash through an online appeal, to help the charity.
One of his biggest helpers was Jamie, a family worker for a children’s care home in Lochgelly, who rallied his family and friends, tirelessly collecting dozens of bags of clothes which he and Mark took across to the Southside Community Centre in Edinburgh in a trailer driven by another friend.
Jamie said: “I was there for about nine hours on Christmas Day helping as part of the welcoming team, organising luggage and showing people around the building.
“A lot of the guests I spoke to on Christmas day were there solely due to Universal Credit rolling into place. Homeless doesn’t just mean no roof. It also means no food, no heating, no love.
“At the end of the day I felt humbled and grateful for all that I have. I worked for a homeless charity for a year or so, so I know what it can be like.
“I just want to thank everyone who helped us raise the money and collect all the clothes which were very welcome.”
Mark, who set up Revolution Barbershop at the east end of Kirkcaldy’s High Street 20 months ago after seven years of travelling around the world cutting hair, added: “When you finally got home and showered and sat back and reflected on what you had just witnessed, you couldn’t help but get emotional – I don’t care how hard you are.
“I am very grateful to everyone for their kindness.”