Stylist makes her Northampton barber shop autism-friendly for children

Charlie Browns Gentleman's Barbers is an autism-friendly barbers where little Alfie is pictured getting his haircut by Charlie.
Charlie Browns Gentleman's Barbers is an autism-friendly barbers where little Alfie is pictured getting his haircut by Charlie.

Parents are bringing their children from as far as London to have their haircut by a specialist Northampton barber, who is trained to cut autistic children's hair.

Barber Charlie Topham of Charlie Brown's Gentleman's Barbers, in Kings Heath Industrial Estate, has been cutting hair now for 30 years and decided to go it alone five years ago.

Charlie lets the children feel really comfortable in her salon and cuts their hair where the little ones prefer to sit.

Charlie lets the children feel really comfortable in her salon and cuts their hair where the little ones prefer to sit.

Since taking on her own business she has been inspired to make her barber's autism friendly, and offers families from as far away as London the opportunity for their children to have their hair cut in a calm environment.

Charlie said: "All kids deserve to look smart and a lot of barbers refuse to cut a child’s hair who moves or cries. All you need is patience and for the child to trust you.

"It can be very emotional sometimes when they have been coming for years and sometimes only getting one snip here and there and then suddenly the trust is there and they get that full cut.

"It brings a tear to your eye, and the parents, when you know you have cracked it."

L-R: Stylists Zana Grant and Charlie Topham.

L-R: Stylists Zana Grant and Charlie Topham.

Charlie learned how to cut children's hair after seeking inspiration from James Williams, who founded Autism Barbers Assemble.

She added: "Barbers around the UK, from all different destinations, travel to towns where autism-friendly barbers are not available and come together at a venue and parents bring their children in, who are on the spectrum, for their haircut.

"Jim inspired me to make my barber's autism friendly - as he did many more barbers around the UK - but there still isn’t enough.

"I have children travel as far away as London have their haircut with me."

Charlie tries to make the experience as fun for the children as possible by not forcing them to sit in the chair. They can also roam around, play with water and even sit outside in the summer if it makes the experience easier for them.

Parents can book their appointments through the NEARCUT booking site, which allows them to come in when the shop is empty and quiet.