How we've helped Warren Neill - Humanist Whiskey Barber
Warren is the Humanist Whiskey Barber, a NVQ Level 3 qualified unisex freelance barber
and trainee hairdresser based on St Martin's, Isles of Scilly.
I’d always had an interest in fashion and hairdressing, and five years ago on a trip home to Northern Ireland I was sat with my wife in a bar in Bangor and I just thought that life is too short to not be doing something that I’m passionate about.
How we helped
Not many people can say they have moved to – and built a life for themselves on – the Isles of Scilly. It’s a select bunch who find themselves lucky enough to call it home, and for Warren Neill it’s a home that couldn’t be much further from his birthplace of Northern Ireland.
“I really only had the one criteria in mind, I wanted to move somewhere quiet. There was a job going on the Isles of Scilly and I thought I’d apply and give it a go for a few months. I then met my wife, and 13 years later I’m still here,” he said.
Branding himself as the Humanist Whiskey Barber; the inspiration behind the business name is the combining of three passions: humanism, whiskey, and a career change into barbering.
“I’d always had an interest in fashion and hairdressing, and five years ago on a trip home to Northern Ireland I was sat with my wife in my favourite bar in Bangor and I just thought that life is too short to not be doing something that I’m passionate about. I had and still have an interest in humanism, have a healthy passion for whiskey and I wanted to be a hairdresser, and it was as simple as that,” Warren said.
His journey has been one we’ve been involved in at the Skills Hub for some time now, with the unique situation of being based away from the mainland proving to be an interesting conundrum for when it came to accessing training.
With support from the Skills Hub, Warren linked up with GHQ Training, based in Plymouth, who have been instrumental in allowing him to further his career from the comfort of home.
“Understandably, nobody thought it was a good idea to try to train a barber or hairdresser remotely at the time when I first started looking at training a few years ago. Jean at GHQ in Plymouth was the only one who saw potential and, after seeing I had some sort of dexterous ability, we started from there - a big learning curve for both of us,” he said.
Establishing his own training salon on St Martin’s, Warren had the island’s locals come in for complimentary haircuts for him to further his qualifications and now, fully qualified to NVQ Level 3, provides the service to most of the residents, tourists during the summer season and taking over the barber chair at Cut Loose on the main island of St Mary’s.
Barbering isn’t easy by any stretch, Warren admits, but he wanted to be challenged again in a different way and has undertaken his Level 3 Hairdressing qualification via GHQ. This now includes in-salon guidance and support from Rosanna, owner at Cut Loose, alongside working as a barber, whilst also travelling to Plymouth for further face-to-face training.
Warren’s travel to Plymouth was made possible via the Access To Training Fund, a funding source to help upskill those based on the Isles of Scilly.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get onto the course without the Access to Training Fund and the perseverance of Trish Peacock. The training is intrinsic to what I’m doing, and it has been fundamental to me making the decision to undertake further qualifications.
“In fact, I couldn’t have done any of this without the Skills Hub and I can’t emphasise that enough. It’s not a throw away remark, as even though I have the determination to do it, it literally wouldn’t have happened without the support I’ve received,” Warren said.