South Devon College hairdressing students undergo suicide prevention training – FE News

Barber and hairdressing students at South Devon College will now receive suicide prevention training as part of their qualifications.

South Devon College in Torquay and the Lions Barber Collective have joined forces to create the first ever Lions Barber Academy.

The charity was founded by internationally renowned Torquay barber, Tom Chapman. After losing a friend to suicide, Tom, a former South Devon College student, set out to do something to help prevent others from taking their own lives.

“It is a huge privilege to launch the first Lions Barber Academy at South Devon College where I was a student. People in the hair and beauty industry hold a special place in people’s lives. Our goal is to create a judgment-free environment, recognize signs of mental distress, and direct individuals to the support they need. Training these students is the only way to create a legacy of real and lasting change,” said Tom.

In his presentation at the launch, which was attended by students, college staff and local employers, Tom explained that 72% of those who commit suicide have had no contact with mental health services in the past 12 months preceding their death, but probably had a haircut.

“If we can reach out to these people, the majority of whom are men, we can hopefully prevent more people from taking their own lives,” he said.

Through this partnership, this suicide prevention training will be incorporated into all hairdressing, hairdressing and beauty courses at South Devon College. The multi-award winning training teaches the four pillars of RECOGNIZE, ASK, LISTEN and HELP to HELP. Bridging the gap between the communities served by the hair industry and the professionals and charities available to them.

“We are absolutely delighted to be the first college to launch Lions Academy,” said Matt Harbour, Deputy Principal and CEO of South Devon College.

“Tom Chapman studied here in college and we are delighted that he remembers us and continues to work together with our program team. It is absolutely invaluable that this kind of innovation and industry vision is fed back at college.

Mental health is so important to us here at South Devon College, particularly in the wake of Covid 19. We see every day the impact of the past two years on our young people in particular, but this is a bigger issue broad within our community.

We are delighted to be able to offer Lions Academy training to our hairdressing, hairdressing and beauty staff and students. This will equip them for the conversations they will inevitably have with their future clients and hopefully provide them with the tools they need to identify the signs of suicidal thoughts and ultimately save lives.

A full-time Level 2 barber student, James Webb agrees the Academy will help him in his future career.

Lions Barber Academy at South Devon College
Tom Chapman with Maria Woodger, Assistant Principal of South Devon College and students.

“It was great to see Tom Chapman talk about the charity in person. I learned a lot from it and it will definitely make a big difference for me in the future where I hope to have set up my own shop.

“As a barber or hairstylist, you regularly see clients, learn about their life stories, and hear about their issues. Especially men in general, they get very personal and feel like they can talk to you about so much more.

The partnership was launched on the eve of Time to Talk Day; the nation’s largest mental health conversation (Thursday, Feb. 3rd). Set up by mental health charity Mind, it’s a day where friends, families, communities and workplaces come together to talk, listen and change lives.

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