Belfast barber honours promise to give recovering heroin addict a job after seven months clean

Thomas Finn with barber Jay Millar who has handed him a lifeline by giving him a free training course and a job
-Credit: (Image: Jays Barber Shop)

A Belfast barber has honoured his promise of giving a recovering heroin addict a job a year after he said he would after getting himself clean.

Thomas Finn, 32, has struggled with addiction issues for 15 years and met Rathcoole barber Jay Millar while he was providing haircuts to those on the streets of Belfast city centre last year.

Jay posted a video of the pair speaking while he was cutting Thomas’ hair at a shelter last year, where he made him a promise he would offer him a free training course and a job if he turned his life around.

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Now one year on, Thomas has been enrolled onto Jay’s barber course and works part-time at his shop.

“I’m getting there, slowly but surely,” Thomas says.

“I’m loving it, it’s different and I’m still getting used to it. I haven’t worked in 15 years.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Jay has saved my life.

“There was a point last year where I got a blood clot on my leg and I didn’t really care whether I lived or died.

“I’ve had a couple of slip ups and ended up back in a hostel again, but I’ve got my own flat now and as soon as I got in there I got in contact with Jay and have got myself clean ever since.

“Now he has actually given me something to live for, he made me feel like I’m worth something.”

Speaking about his new recruit, Jay says his own addiction problems in the past have led him to be empathetic towards people who end up on the streets of the city.

“I came across Thomas years ago when volunteering at Hope Street, Chapel Lane in Belfast,” Jay said.

“I offered him a training course last year which he was able to start but since then has had a few slip ups. But now he’s been clean for seven months, we have him back on the course and gave him a job.

“We want to get him through the course so he’s qualified to cut hair for himself, but he says he wants to stay and work here as well so we’re delighted to have him.

“Addiction is very hard, I know that myself from having gone through it. It’s easier to win the lottery than for an addict to get clean and get a job. It just means a lot to me to try and help him, no matter how small .

“I’ve seen him at his worst and it just speaks volumes to see him where he is now.”

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