Young person wearing PPE, cuts a customer's hair

Jake’s Story: Hoping to Become a Celebrity Hairstylist

Jake became homeless after coming out as gay to his mum. After living in temporary accommodation for a number of months, Jake was referred to Centrepoint in December 2020 and has recently been supported by the Bursary Scheme to buy hairdressing equipment for his apprenticeship.

Hiding his sexuality at school

Jake* hid his sexuality whilst at secondary school, just wanting to get through his GCSEs. When he started college, he began opening up to close friends, but still kept it secret from his family. However, the secrecy soon began eating away at him, and he made the decision to come out to his mum.

Not accepted for being gay

 “I came to the realisation that being truthful is important and I would rather be honest, so I sat my mum down and told her,” he recalls. “She didn’t agree with my choices and didn’t trust me after that. My mum comes from a Catholic background and we would just clash all the time. Often, I would sofa surf with friends just to avoid the arguments.”

Presenting as homeless

Jake went to the council in July 2020 and presented as homeless, and he was provided with temporary accommodation in a studio flat in Golders Green, North London. “They were trying to encourage me to find a property to privately rent, but with everything going on around me and with the pandemic, I wasn’t able to manage it. I’d just being chucked out of my mum’s house and I was trying to sustain everything around me. It was hard,” he remembers.

Support from Centrepoint

Eventually, someone called Jake to let him know there was a place for him at a Centrepoint hostel: “It’s here that I’ve been able to really start focusing on moving forwards.”

The support at Centrepoint has been really helpful to Jake’s growth, where he’s been learning key life skills with the help of the staff.

“Olu, my key worker, always has catch-ups with me to check in with finances and mental and physical health, and the wider team support me with certain things I want to do. They’ve been helping me since I first got here – always checking if I need anything. When I first arrived, they gave me a starter pack with kitchen equipment – pots and pans and stuff. At Christmas, we got loads of food and some gifts, which felt really good. They’ve just been really supportive. I only have good things to say about this accommodation.”

Learning during the pandemic

 Jake’s love of hairdressing first began when he was at school: “First I learnt how to braid – I used to have long hair so my mum used to braid my hair. With the skills she taught me, I used to braid girls’ hair at school for them at lunch and break time.”

But this desire to turn his passion into a career was only truly realised once he was in college.

“I actually was doing media and business, but those courses didn’t really satisfy me. On the side, I was still doing people’s hair for them. I started really thinking about my future and what I wanted to do. Working with hair is something I really enjoy, so I decided to start an apprenticeship instead. I’m just learning every single day and building up my portfolio all the time.”

Jake started his hairdressing apprenticeship in October 2020, but getting to grips with such a hands-on trade during lockdown was tough. “I didn’t have any equipment or any help,” he recalls. “The Universal Credit I was receiving went on food, clothes and bills, and I didn’t have anything to help me get through the training.”

It’s certainly not been easy, but what spurred Jake on during this difficult period is a vision of what his future could look like if he persevered. “I just concentrate on where I will be in a year’s time. I’m trying to focus on my career, get through this training and pass my driving test. I’ve been just imagining my life in the future and that’s kept me going,” he says.

Bursary support

Luckily, Centrepoint was there for Jake during his time of need. When he came to Centrepoint, he was able to access the organisation’s Bursary Scheme, which offers financial support to young people in education, training or employment. This meant that Jake was finally able to afford some of the hairdressing equipment that was essential to him progressing in his apprenticeship.

The process was easy: “I was asked to put together a list of equipment I needed, and I applied to the Centrepoint Bursary for financial support to buy these items. I absolutely love my equipment. I can’t stop using it and practising on the doll’s hair!” He enthuses, thrilled that these tools allow him to take his future seriously. “There’s no way I could have afforded this equipment on my own and it’s essential for my career progression. If you really want to progress down this path and be productive then you need the right support and help.”

Looking forwards

As Jake’s professional life is progressing, his personal life is moving forward too – he is still working on his relationship with his mum, slowly but surely. “Since moving out, it has been easier and she has been trying to understand – the space was really needed,” he reflects.

And as things start clicking into place for Jake, his view of the future has come into crystal clear focus – he knows exactly what he’s working towards: “My end goal in hairdressing is to complete my apprenticeship and on the side, I’m continuing to do hairstyling. Once I’ve perfected those skills and completed my course, I’d like to work at a salon and maybe go for my Level 2 and 3. I want to be a well-rounded hairstylist and be able to do everything. My dream goal is to be a celebrity hairstylist.”

We can’t wait to see what Jake achieves and have no doubt that we’ll see his creations on the big screen one day – we wish him all the best for his bright future ahead.

*names have been changed