Why your post-lockdown haircut could change a child's life

Credit: Rosie Pryor/Kira Comerford/Tanja Gardner

Most of us can't wait to get a haircut now that salons have reopened after lockdown, and many hairdressers are struggling to cope with the demand for appointments.

But a charity in Hereford is asking people to put off getting the chop as long as possible - and to think of them when they do.

The Little Princess Trust takes hair donations and turns them into wigs, to give to children who have lost their hair during cancer treatment or through other medical conditions.

Credit: The Little Princess Trust

And they desperately need hair that is longer than 16 inches - so the wigs can match how recipients' hair used to look.

They want people to capitalise on their enforced lockdown growth, and keep on growing their hair for as long as they can, before donating it.

Hair generally grows around six inches a year, so Wendy Tarplee-Morris, one of the charity's founders, says since they reopened after lockdown, donations have already been longer than normal - but they need more!

What is our relationship with our hair?

Not being able to get it cut has become a big talking point during the Coronavirus lockdown, but what does it mean to lose it through illness?

And how does it feel to make the choice to cut it all off?

For Wendy, hair "is part of our identity, our confidence...hair loss is such a visual thing and tells the world that you're poorly, and children and young people are just as affected as adults."

The Little Princess Trust was created in 2006 after Wendy lost her 5-year-old daughter Hannah, the previous year.

As part of her chemotherapy treatment for a Wilms' Tumour, a type of cancer, Hannah lost her hair. They wanted her to have a real hair wig, but found the process difficult and expensive.

So the charity was set up in her memory - to provide wigs, allowing children to feel more themselves, and more confident to return to their old lives on well days, and also to fund research.

  • These people chose to cut their long hair off and to give it away to someone else. Here's what it meant to them.

Credit: Tanja Gardner/Twitter

Sophie Gardner, 8, had only had her hair cut once before, when she was 4 years old, so by the time she had the big chop on April 13, the day after salons reopened, it was 15 inches long.

She decided she wanted to donate her hair because she wanted to help a poorly child who doesn't have any.

Credit: Tanja Gardner

She was also inspired by her sister who had done the same thing previously,

Sophie and her mum Tanja have managed to raise £720, and Tanja says Sophie was totally calm when the scissors came out.

For Rosie Pryor, who works in the arts, it was a privilege to have the choice to cut her hair.

"I was privileged to be bored of it, and to cut it off by choice, and I'm glad a young person can make the most of it and get lots of compliments and be really happy with it.

"I think a lot of the time as women, if you've got lovely long hair you're seen as more attractive or more beautiful. Growing up it felt like having long hair was a statement of my attractiveness to others, so I had the opportunity and privilege to shave it off and still be as beautiful and happy without my hair.

"I think I used to use it as a shield or a mask or a curtain - I used to style it and make it look all pretty, and actually be feeling quite sad underneath."

Videographer Kira Comerford from Leicester is about to get her 12 inch long hair cut off to give away - and can't wait to get into the hairdresser.

For her, there's not much sentimental value attached to her hair. It just grew during lockdown, and life will simply become much easier without it, because of the time it takes to care for it.

"Washing it is a nightmare, it's horrendous, if I don't plait it I'm setting myself up for misery."

She says because she's never really styled it, and ties it back, it's in good condition, so "somebody else will probably make use of it."

Credit: Kira Comerford

She told us it seemed such a waste to throw it away, when it could go to someone who really needed it.

She's going for the big chop in May and will let her hairdresser have free rein.

How's a wig made?

It takes 14-16 people's hair and around 60 hours of work to make one wig. Each hair is hand knotted into the base of the wig and it costs between £550-£650.

Credit: The Little Princess Trust

How can I donate my hair?

Although they need longer hair most urgently, if you can't wait another second to get rid of your lockdown locks, then the charity says they're always grateful for donations, but you do need to get your hair cut and sent in a certain way:

  • Washed

  • Dried

  • Without any styling products

  • In a pony tail with a hair band at both ends and half way down.

  • Cut above the top band.

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