Cork hairdresser launches annual 'back to school'  drive to help those in need

Joe Byrne who runs a salon on Glasheen Road is in action again - this time fundraising to help with back to school costs
Cork hairdresser launches annual 'back to school'  drive to help those in need

Joe Byrne at his salon. Joe is running a back to school drive to help people with the huge costs at that time of year. Picture: Larry Cummins.

A CORK hairdresser is trying to lift some of the financial burden associated with the return to school this September.

Following a hugely successful donation drive last year, Glasheen hairdresser Joe Byrne and his team have decided to build on that generosity this year.

“We are conscious of the impact of the cost of living crisis on families so want to support them in any way we can,” says Joe.

“We have already received some generous donations of vouchers for uniforms, school bags, copies and folders.”

Everyone rows in.

“The communities around the salon and throughout Cork have always supported our appeals, and I know this year people will dig deep and donate to those who are in need of support,” says Joe.

“All donations will be distributed to Edel House, Penny Dinners, Cuanlee refuge and some individuals that we support throughout the year,” says Joe.

“Also this year, a team of volunteers including myself, will be offering back-to school haircuts on a date in August.

“All of this would not be possible without the support of my team at Joseph’s hair salon and all those kind-hearted people that donate so generously.

“On the day we are doing back-to-school haircuts, a party will be organised with food and drinks provided by Flannery’s pub on Glasheen Road. Flannnery’s have always supported our events by making sure everyone is made welcome on the day. The staff are great there to cater for us.

“Another partner in all of this is our friends at the Book Station, Douglas, who source all the back-to-school materials for all the children, and the team there also donate,” says Joe.

“The aim of all this is to ensure that all kids get what they need for going back to school so that everyone is on an equal footing, and also to alleviate any stress that parents might have at the expensive back-to-school time.”

Joe feels very honoured to help those who need it.

“We are very privileged to be able to do this. I do it because I get so much support and it could be any of us in this same boat at any time. Joseph’s is not just a hair salon, it’s a place that is very involved in the community.

“If we all did something, it would make such a difference to our world,” says Joe.

“We can’t depend on the government to look after us; we have do it for each other.”

Catriona Twomey of Penny Dinners says Joe is like a guardian angel to them.

“Joe works so hard on behalf of other people,” says Catriona.

“He puts the human touch on things. He uplifts people and he brings joy to people. It is great to have him in our lives. The joy he brings to us is palpable.”

Joe has provided support to the women and children in Edel House over the last few years too.

“He continues to support Edel House,” says manager, Colette Foster.

“He started by supporting the families and women by providing them with appointments to get their hair done. This has grown over the years,” adds Colette.

“As Joe has been talking to the women, he has become more aware of what the challenges and needs are for people experiencing homelessness. With kindness and good fun, he has supported the women and children throughout the year. He has collected and distributed school items, which helps reduce the burden for many families who are experiencing homelessness as they return to school,” says Colette.

Joe makes sure the children are turned out well for those special occasions.

“He also makes sure that all the children have the opportunity to get their hair cut for Communions, Confirmations and for going back to school,” says Colette.

“This Easter, Joe and his group of volunteers organised a party for the children. This was the first event we had taken part in as a group since the start of the pandemic,” says Colette.

It was a great occasion for all involved.

“It was so positive to see all the adults and children having fun and having a laugh,” says Colette.

“Many of the families face struggles in trying to prepare for their children returning to school. So while the school term is only ending for many children, Joe is already beginning to work on preparing to work with his group of volunteers in collecting donations to support families as they return to school.”

Joe gets great satisfaction from his good works.

“We don’t want anyone to feel it’s a charity; it’s just us all helping each other. Also, I could not do this without the support of my fabulous husband, Darren.”

Anyone looking to make a donation can call to the salon from Wednesday to Saturday.

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