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Unique salon for people with learning disabilities opens its doors

Bradford’s first beauty salon exclusively for adults with learning disabilities has opened its doors with the help of celebrity hairdresser, Andrew Collinge.

Mirror Mirror is located at The Learning Zone, which is just one of many day opportunities run by national learning disability charity, Hft. Based on Preston Street, the beauty room will offer people a chance to enjoy some pampering ranging from hair styling and hand massages to manicures. For those interested in gaining a flavour of the industry, there will also be opportunities to work towards a professional qualification.

Starting from September, a group of six to eight adults with learning disabilities are set to be trained up by qualified beauticians at the service over the course of an academic year. Budding salon managers will gain experience of the day-to-day running of a beauty room, as well as washing, styling and straightening hair, all contributing towards a Level 1 qualification in hairdressing.

Plans for the salon have been in place since last year, when staff at The Learning Zone, which offers classes to almost 90 people a day, realised there was a gap in the market for people with learning disabilities to either gain some new hair and beauty skills or enjoy a treatment. 

The venture was funded with the help of Andrew Collinge and his family, who raised over £10,000 towards the £16,000 project through donations and various fundraising activities including a raffle and golf day over the last year. Further funds were raised by the charity through bag packing initiatives at local supermarkets, a sponsored Mount Snowdon climb and a Christmas concert. 

The salon officially opened for business on Wednesday (31 July) with a ribbon cutting ceremony where Andrew Collinge and his wife Liz enjoyed some drinks and refreshments with guests including staff and people supported at the service. To mark the occasion, the two-time British Hairdresser of the Year demonstrated how to straighten the hair of Geeta, who is supported at the service.Salon for people with learning disabilities

More than 20 guests were able to take a first look at Mirror Mirror, which boasts a range of state of the art equipment including three styling stations, accessible back and front hair washing facilities, two nail bars and a massage chair. People supported at The Learning Zone will have the chance to enjoy some regular relaxation, with treatments like hand massages proven to boost wellbeing.

Maxine Kneeshaw, Area Manager at Hft, said: “We’re so excited to be opening Mirror Mirror. People with learning disabilities don’t always have access to the same opportunities as everyone else so The Learning Zone supports them to do something new and expand their skill sets, leading to increased confidence and potentially even employment. Our new beauty room is a great example of this, providing people we support with a stimulating environment where they can learn something new or simply take an hour to relax and feel pampered.

“Andrew Collinge and his family have been instrumental in getting this unique project off the ground and we’re so pleased they could be here today to celebrate us opening our doors.”

Andrew Collinge said: “It was an honour to have been invited by The Learning Zone to open the Mirror Mirror salon. I love the new salon, it’s light and airy and I’m sure it will be very popular. Congratulations to everyone involved and good luck to the salon team.

“Liz and I came away from the The Learning Zone totally inspired by what we had seen and heard.” 

Hft supports adults with learning disabilities, providing person-centred services ranging from flexible day support to supported living at home – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. 

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