The barber cuts the hair of the homeless outside of Angel Station and you might have spotted him dancing with travelers near the Underground (Picture: Mojo Stewart)
Mojo Stewart doesn’t call himself a barber – but you might spot him around London cutting people’s hair and having a little boogie with commuters.
For two and a half days a week, he helps out food banks, gives people free haircuts, and entertains anyone who needs their day brightening.
It all started in April 2018, when Mojo was in a bad place and didn’t want to work.
‘I was in a low place when I started doing the haircuts, so working wasn’t really an issue.
‘I didn’t want to work, what I wanted to do was something to make myself happy.
‘Doing this made me happy,’ he said.
Mojo never charges a penny for his work, and his clientele varies. Sometimes it’s homeless people, but other times it is refugees, people waiting in the queue at a foodbank and children.
Mojo will cut children’s hair as long as their parents bring them along. ‘After the pandemic, I was amazed at how many kids were getting their hair done,’ he said.
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Mojo Stewart doing what he does best outside Angel Station (Picture: Mojo Stewart)
Yet as he says on his Instagram page, it’s not just about hair – there’s a mental health aspect to it too.
Four years ago, a woman brought over her partially blind husband to Mojo for a haircut.
‘The man was very quiet, very soft-spoken. He seemed to want to help me,
‘He brought down a razor – one of those free ones – so that I could help do other people’s faces with it.
‘I couldn’t use it, but it was just a thought that he had these ideas which made him a helpful person,’ Mojo recalled.
Every two weeks, the man would visit Mojo for a haircut, but this time, without his wife. He couldn’t speak English very well, but they communicated through hand gestures.
After a while, he was a different person. He began to smile and opened up to Mojo. Yet one day, he stopped coming.
Then his wife – who Mojo affectionately calls auntie Sharma – went to see him.
‘She said: “Mojo, you don’t remember me. I brought my husband down.” And that’s how we got our connection.’
She told Mojo that her husband had died.
Auntie Sharma would pay Mojo visits, and for the first three months they mainly spoke about the loss of her husband.
‘His his wife said that he was very intelligent. He was an accountant before he went blind,’ Mojo said.
Then over time, auntie Sharma – a small but chatty 77-year-old – and Mojo would pop to McDonald’s and chat about everything. There’s still sadness in her, but now she jokes a lot.
‘She’s with me on the street, we’re out there in public, but she can sit down, knowing that it’s like a safe space,’ he said.
‘We are a street family.’
To Mojo, it’s not just about hair (Picture: Mojo Stewart)
During his hair-cutting sessions, you’ll always hear music. He got his love of dancing from being raised in a care home.
‘The first time I felt that I was able to express myself was when I was about four years old,’ he said.
A band wearing costumes came in to play drums for the kids.
‘As soon as I saw it, I just felt so alive,’ he recalled.
Four-year-old Mojo quickly ran into the bathroom and shaped a towel to look like their costumes, and danced along with them.
‘I’m not a dancer, but it’s my happy place,’ he said. He shares his happy place with everyone – each year, he creates a dance that other people can do with him.
One day in between the dancing, Mojo said he was cutting a man’s hair: ‘He said to me, “You know what Mojo, you make people feel valued.”
‘And it was after he said that, to me, that’s when I came up with the idea – I would love to put on an event to show you how valued you are.
‘But I’m just a person, I’m just me.’
From that day on, the idea of a Groove Groom Grub festival blossomed. Lush gave him £500, with which he bought some food, sleeping bags and rucksacks. He also received some soap from the store, which he put in the goodie bags.
He didn’t advertise his event, he just told the people he was helping so other people who didn’t need help wouldn’t know about it. He hosted the first festival on July 19 2023, and the second on August 23 2023.
Mojo hires the homeless to run the festival, too – £10 an hour for a DJ, and for someone else to keep the area clean. Up to 20 people turned up for his first event.
Thanks to his close relationship with the community, he’s now created a system where people find themselves coming back again and again.
‘I’m really amazed that people come back to me,’ Mojo said. ‘It’s like, wow, you came back even though you know I’m not a barber, right?’
It may be because he cares for people – which is something he said he didn’t receive as a child.
His biological mum told him that she put him in care at two months old, he recalled.
‘It’s almost like you don’t have a family,’ he said.
‘You don’t have somewhere where you can put your stuff down and know that it’s going to be there. I certainly understood the idea of being homeless.’
Throughout his childhood, he always sought out his family. He added: ‘I didn’t realise that at the time my family didn’t want me. When I understood that, I must’ve been about 17.
‘I used to think to myself, well, it couldn’t be so difficult to just care. It doesn’t cost anything at all.
‘People don’t come to be expecting to get their handout, necessarily, but they do expect to be heard, or to be listened to.
‘All I can give is what I would have liked.’
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Mojo Stewart cuts people’s hair, raises festivals for the homeless and helps out food banks for free – it’s what makes him happy.