On Sunday 13 November, the eagerly anticipated Afro-Caribbean Barber Footy Showdown kicked off and was an enormous success.
Eight teams representing six different barbershops went head-to-head at Talacre Community Sports Centre in Kentish Town.
The atmosphere was electric with friendly chants and cheers filled the air from the moment the first whistle was blown.
This unique and exciting event was a smash with the local Afro-Caribbean community.
Barber shops play a key role in bringing black men together. They are well known and have social influence.
Camden Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) recognised this and have continued to work alongside Camden’s barbers since funding training in mental health first aid for them in 2015.
In the lead up to the big event on Sunday, barbers have been raising awareness not only of the competition but also of mental health within the community. The barbers aren’t just tackling each other on the football pitch, they are tackling stigma among black men in a new and fresh way.
Dr Jonathan Levy, Camden GP and Camden CCG mental health lead said, “This event has been a great opportunity to get the message out to this community that mental and physical health are equally important. We all have physical health and we all have mental health, and if someone is having difficulty, we need to support one another.
“The barbers are central to Camden’s black community and this is another innovative way we are working with different communities to increase awareness and reduce stigma around mental illness.”
The competition was the climax of a new mental health campaign – ‘Header’ – which was co-produced with Camden Hub and the barbers themselves.
Before the first whistle Albert Rose, who trained eight of the barbers in mental health first aid last year, gave a talk to the players and the crowd about mental health and encouraged them to support each other with both physical and mental health.
The players were kitted out in team strips with the lead campaign message:
#WEALLHAVEIT We all have it physical health. We all have mental health. Simple.
Spectators were watching through their fingers as Screechy and his team, representing Sam’s Unisex barbershop, won the competition in a sudden death penalty shoot-out.
Barber Steve from Sammy's Unisex Barbershop said, “It went really well. It's not about winning, it's about mental health, that's why I'm so pleased it was so good. We are already thinking that this could be big. Word is spreading. Next year it will be easy to run and there will be even more people.”