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Barber student cuts across Finland, styling the needy

Jouko Näivä, or Jouko the Street Barber can often be seen in the streets of Helsinki, snipping away. Now he's taking his mobile salon around Finland to help more people.

Jouko Näivä
Jouko Näivä dyed his hair blue as a result of a 30's age crisis. Image: Anne Laine / Yle

Never underestimate the power of a clean shave and a good haircut. Barber student Jouko Näivä is on a mission to help those who need it the most regain their self-confidence and self-worth, one free cut at a time.

Jouko Näivä, or Jouko the Street Barber as he is called on his popular Facebook page, can often be seen in the streets of Helsinki, snipping away. It’s his way of giving back.

”I never believed I would be doing work like this. But then I faced some difficult times in my own life and needed help,” Näivä says.

While cutting hair, he likes to chat to his impromptu clients, some of whom have gone through a school of hard knocks.

”Some of my clients have really touching stories, and I take their stories home with me. They’ve gone through really rough times… but that’s what life is like,” Näivä says.

For example, one woman he met in the Helsinki district of Kallio hadn't had a haircut in decades. She'd gone through a string of abusive relationships, and said she'd rather use the little she has to care for her cats than herself.

A cut above

Näivä is currently on a charity tour around Finland. His first stop is his old hometown, Lappeenranta. Näivä plans to take his mobile salon around central Finland and Kuopio.

“I like doing this. It makes me feel good,” Näivä says.

Clients do not need to prove their poverty, as Näivä trusts people to be honest.

On a summer Wednesday Näivä has parked his salon in Lappeenranta’s central promenade, and the tattooed, blue-haired barber has attracted plenty of curious bystanders.

Näivä’s services are clearly in demand, as clients come in and out in a steady stream.

“Don’t you dare colour my hair green!” an elderly male client says and laughs.

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