Ali Sezer has launched his own mobile barber shop, called ‘Ali’s Mobile Barber Unit’ after spending two months building it with friends.
The 41-year-old already runs ‘Ali Barber’, on Westoe Road, South Shields but decided to expand during the coronavirus pandemic to reach customers who may not be able to come into his shop.
Ali said: “The original reason for it was that I was going to go up and down the country offering free haircuts to homeless people as I have seen lots of people on the streets who need help.
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"I just wanted to give back.”
But Ali, who has given free haircuts to the homeless in Newcastle before, knew it would be a challenge to travel with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, he plans to offer the service from the van to the homeless on specific days in the future, while running it as a business alongside his South Shields store.
"I am really pleased with it, the outside has solar panels so it is all run on green energy and everything is working nice,” he said.
"Health and safety have been in and passed it and covid-regualtors from the council have also passed it, so I am going out every Tuesday now.
"My first time out in it was three weeks ago at the Market Place and I had 13 customers who just walked up."
Ali, who says he was the first Turkish barber in South Shields after starting work in the town in 2010, runs the service with wife, Leslie, a hairdresser and barber.
The mobile unit caters for both men and women and takes bookings for a door-to-door service, as well as pitching up at different locations across South Tyneside every Tuesday.
And already it has been a hit – with Ali now fully booked on some days with appointments for families with young children, those with additional needs and house-bound people.
“The interest has been unbelievable,” Ali said.
"Customers have been telling everybody about it… I am overwhelmed by how good the response has been from people.
"I wasn’t expecting it to be this good.”