“I used to earn around 300–400 THB before the pandemic, and this was enough to feed my family. In the current context, days go by where I have no income at all,” says Mr. Somkiat Tungengtaracharoen, who owns a single-seat barber shop called Kiat Barber.

 

Ms. Kanyawee Yoochaipatarawasin is another salon owner in Soi Pathonyothin 52. She says, “The pandemic has had a great impact on hairdressers like us — I have some friends who went out of business.”

The current pandemic has seriously impacted all forms of work, and those in the informal sector or small businesses are particularly susceptible to the wrath of the virus. For the many small barbers and hairdressers in Thailand, the consequences of the pandemic have translated to reduced income or even a loss of job. “My customers have greatly decreased after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Mr. Anusit Pantip who is a hairdresser and owns a barber shop in Phuket. He says his job involves close contact with the customers on a daily basis, and so, undoubtedly, a lot of things have changed in the current pandemic world.

 

Realizing the vast impact of COVID-19 on many small and informal barbers and hairdressers, a training programme was conducted for barbershops and hair salons in July, where the participants learnt about the preventive measures, technical and safety instructions about personal protective equipment, hygienic products and UV Sterilizer cabinet, and various hairstyle techniques. The participants were selected from the most vulnerable communities and from provinces most hard-hit by COVID-19 in Thailand.

The training involved orienting the participants not only on the different techniques of hairstyling, but also disseminating awareness on the current context and how to ensure the highest safety standards for themselves and their customers. It therefore involved learning in an interactive manner via quizzes at the end of each module, and the participants also received a certificate of participation upon the completion of the course. As part of the programme, the participants also received an equipment package including UV Sterilizer cabinet, infrared thermometer, muslin mask, face shield, gloves, alcohol gel and ‘Oon Jai’ bag to ensure safe business.

 

 

 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and six hairdresser associations in July to launch the ‘Chang Phom Oon Jai’ project to support barbers and hairdressers to reopen their businesses in a safe manner. The programme has been providing support to small barbershops and hair salons, and aims to support 1,000 of them in Bangkok, Phuket, Nonthaburi, Yala, and Samutprakarn as well as in other provinces nationwide.

The Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Mr. Juti Krairiksh also feels this programme will go a long way in contributing to the country’s recovery efforts: He says, “This partnership between the Ministry and UNDP is indeed a great collaborative programme. It seeks to prepare the Thai barbershops and hair salons for the new world, whilst ensuring the highest hygiene standards for the safety of the barbers and hairdressers, as well as for their customers.”

 

So what did the participants really learn at the training? Mr. Tungengtaracharoen says, “I learnt a lot about different hairstyles, as well as how to adapt to the current crisis. I learnt that we need to be concerned about the safety of our customers. So now I measure the temperature of the customers before they enter, provide them with alcohol gel to clean their hands, and have made wearing a face mask mandatory in my shop. Moreover, I also keep a record of the names and contact details of my customers and pay careful attention to the hygiene in the shops.”

Mr. Renaud Meyer, Resident Representative of UNDP says, “This collaborative effort is part of the UNDP response to the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that the people who are most affected by it are also given support they need so that they can resume their activities and therefore contribute to the recovery.”

The participants of the training also concur that it adds to their skills-set and helps them adapt to the current crisis. With their renewed vigor, these participants are ready to cut away the COVID-19 blues! Ms. Yoochaipatarawasin says that the training was an informative one and that she will, “definitely share the learnings with my friends so that it helps their businesses!” Mr. Pantip, expressing his gratitude toward the training programme, says that applying the learnings from the training will “Help restore the customers’ confidence and make them feel safe!”

 

This story has also been published on medium.

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