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  1. ITV Report

Mother of disabled son opens salon for people with learning difficulties

Believed to be the first of its kind in Wales, Liz Stewart opened the doors of SP1 just a few weeks ago.

It looks slightly different to a 'normal' hairdressers - there are no pictures on the wall, no loud music or equipment being used.

Based in the Rhiwbina area of Cardiff, Liz wanted to create a calming space for people with a range of disabilities and additional needs.

She became inspired when she realised she wasn't alone having problems taking her son, who has Down Syndrome, for a hair cut.

Amy is one of the salon's customers.

She lives with ADHD and is in the process of going through a diagnosis for autism.

Amy, 9, has her hair washed by hairdresser Petra

Amy also has pica syndrome - an eating disorder that involves compulsive cravings for items such as soap, sponges and plastic.

There's normally lots of noise going on at a regular salon - lots of loud music and loud razors.

"It's all sensory overload for someone like Amy and she's normally doing everything bar sitting still to have her hair done"

– Donna Marshall, Amy's mum

Watch the report by Kathryn Tresilian:

At the salon, staff avoid using the word 'hair cut' and use 'restyle' or 'touch up' to reduce feelings of anxiety among customers.

There's also changing facilities and a sensory room - a space where customers can go and relax.

It gives people a bit more dignity. If an older person needs to be changed, you wouldn't want to be changing them on the floor. Everyone deserves dignity"

– Liz Stewart, salon owner

Liz is also keen to give opportunities to people additional needs. She has taken on three members of staff, each of whom have learning difficulties.

Liz' son Delroy, is the salon's manager. He answers the phone, books appointments and greets customers.

Liz is doing something amazing here.

"As a parent of a child with additional needs it's probably your main worry of what's going to happen when they enter the big world.

"So to know that our children have opportunities that could lead to something like this, it's huge - it takes a lot of pressure off"

– Donna Marshall, Amy's mother

Helen wants to become a fully qualified hairdresser and will be training to do her NVQ Level 1 through the salon.

Latest figures show just around 6% of people with learning difficulties are in some sort of paid employment.

There are a million 'Delroys' out there who deserve to be given the opportunity to work.

People like Helen and our other members of staff are just the start of what I hope will be something big and I'll be able to employ so many more people with additional needs"

– Liz Stewart, salon owner