How pioneering Sheffield project has been a huge success in helping young women overcome adversity and address mental health issues

A pilot community project - which combines hair care and mental health - has been described as ‘incredibly successful’, helping five young women overcome adversity in life, with more hoped to follow.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 3:09 pm

The Summer Hair School is a project run by Adira, in association with Tyrah’s Touch, and teaches people how to create, manage and maintain different African-Caribbean hairstyles.

Five people from the Young Women’s Housing Project were the first to benefit from the scheme, which highlights the important link between hair care and mental health and equips attendees with lifelong skills.

Ursula Myrie, of Adira, said: “This is the first project of its kind. With a pilot, you don’t know whether it's going to work or not, but in my mind, I knew it was going to be a success.

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Pictured at SADACCA: the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Gail Smith; Ursula Myrie, Nigel Wilkes and Marjorie Frater of Adira; Tyrah Myrie of Tyrah's Touch; some of the young women from the Young Women’s Housing Project and support worker, Louise Grubb; Natasha Farrell of Amani kush; and Reece from The Body Shop. Picture Scott Merrylees

“What we do at Adira is we think outside the box, and this project shows that. People thought, what has this got to do with mental health and it’s this.”

She described the project as being “incredibly, incredibly successful” and told how it was not just about showing how such courses can help with mental health.

Ursula said: “This is what co-production and diversity looks like.”

She explained how there may be assumptions that the course is open to black individuals only because Adira is a black-led organisation, but she emphasised that this is not the case.

L-R: Nigel Wilkes of Adira; Ursula Myrie of Adira; Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Gail Smith; Marjorie Frater of Adira; Reece from The Body Shop.

Ursula believes the project demonstrates how all organisations can work together successfully, regardless of a person’s skin colour.

The Young Women’s Housing Project is part of Haven, an independent charity, which provides accommodation and therapeutic support to young women and their children, who have been affected by sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, child sexual exploitation and peer or intimate partner abuse.

Those involved with the project spoke of how “transformational” it had been for the young women, who are all aged between 16-25.

From turning up to classes early because they were eager to learn, to making sure they had done their homework, their enthusiasm was apparently clearly evident.

Louise Grubb, a support worker at the Young Women’s Housing Project, told how it was “really unusual” for the women to complete a five-week course, and many said they “didn’t want to do it” initially.

She said: “It’s been really good for them, for their motivation, to get them out of bed, socialise, do something different.

“They learn how to do hair and it’s good for their future employment.”

Louise told how it was clear that the women “really enjoyed it” and praised Adira for its efforts in putting the course together with its careful consideration of those living with mental health issues.

She added: “Adira has been so good. They’re patient and they provide a great service.”

The young women were expecting nothing less of the last day of their course, however, Adira ensured it was a “special” last day.

Natasha Farrell, who owns jewellery making business Amani kush showed the women how to make jewellery.

The Lord Mayor of Sheffield Gail Smith, presented the women with certificates of attendance.

In addition, Natasha, Lush and The Body Shop donated gifts.

Adira needs more funding to keep the course going - currently there is only enough money to enable another five people to do the course.

For more information, email: [email protected]