Working with RhED St.Kilda // Sex Workers // Homelessness
LAURIE ALEXANDRA is extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to volunteer with RhED St.Kilda. I thought about writing this as the salon however, as this was such a personal experience, I will talk you through it in my own words...
A couple of months ago I was walking along Acland Street after closing the salon for the night. Before moving to Australia 3 1/2 years ago, I assumed it was always hot! I was definitely wrong. Melbourne is extremely cold during the winter nights! During my walk I noticed many homeless people along the street. I began to wonder how cold they must be and why this is still happening all over the world. Later that night, lay in bed, my mind could not stop thinking about these people and what they must go through. How did this happen? Is there anything I can do to help in any way. I thought about how fortunate I am to be in my position at a young age.
I tossed and turned for what felt like the entire night. I then remembered that I was in a Facebook group "St.Kilda - Images & Stories". I then left a long winded message on their wall. It was quite all over the place, I didn't know what I could do to help. But I knew I wanted to in some way. A lovely lady responded to my post explaining that she works for an organisation offering help to sex workers and often homeless people. We talked over text and eventually Kima came to visit the salon. I was delighted when we were offered the chance to volunteer as she felt that we were "clearly very open minded people and would never judge anybody". I remember that very well as I found it very endearing.
I offered to have everybody come into the salon however Kima was already running a workshop on the night that we would volunteer at so we decided it would be best for us to go to her.
Friday evening came and we packed our things up ready to go. Our stylists would be offering hair cutting services and I would be offering nail services. We made our way to Inkerman Street and were greeted with the warmest welcome. After being introduced to everybody we set up and started with our new clients. During the first treatments, we stopped to listen to a lovely lady from Star Health. Star Health is an organisation in Victoria that helps people with many different aspects of their life. We were told about all of their wonderful programmes surrounding mental health and how to go about getting help.
We proceeded to offer our treatments. I remember having a short break waiting for my next client to take a seat in the nail chair. During this time, I watched both staff members transform the hair of their new clients. Both clients telling different stories about their life and things they are going through. Those couple of minutes were very emotional for me. When you hear a story that somebody has been singled out based on their sexuality or life path - It is hard to stomach. When you watch new clients become emotional when looking in the mirror and seeing their first hair cut in a long time - It became even more emotional for all of us. The appreciation and gratitude we received was completely overwhelming. We provide these services every day, but this felt very different.
I personally strongly dislike when selfless acts are put online/ social media etc as I feel it takes away from the act itself. However, we have thought about this for a week now and came to the conclusion that it is better to use social media to our advantage. By explaining our new voluntary position with RhED we may possibly find more organisations to help. We may find more hairdressers/ beauty therapists/ Nail technicians in our community that want to get involved? This could lead to many ways of helping more people.
We will be attending workshops with RhED for the foreseeable future and encourage anybody that would like to help to simply get in touch via email: Contact@lauriealexandra.com.au.
When opening the St.Kilda salon I often found myself trying to explain this crazy new salon to people by saying "I want to create a space for people of all walks of life to feel welcome and celebrated for being who they truly are. I want everybody to leave feeling beautiful and special, walking out with a spring in their step." - Hopefully our new clients feel this way and we have assured them that they will always be welcome at LAURIE ALEXANDRA.