Behind the Beard: James McKinnon
Here at Mo Bro’s, we’re passionate about giving back to our community in any small way we can. We created the Behind the Beard initiative, where we offer free grooming and career coaching to homeless and vulnerable people, to do just that.
This Christmas, we met James McKinnon, whose father was tragically murdered when he was just 19. The tragedy caused rift in his family, and James found himself having to move from Norfolk to Leicester.
Now 22-years-old, James is currently homeless and living in the YMCA in Leicester after an array of bad experiences, including his father being murdered when he was just 19. The death of his father led to a series of family arguments over money and James felt he had no choice but to remove himself from the ‘toxic’ environment that was created.
James said, “I didn’t care about the money, and still don’t, but everyone else was fighting so I just stayed out of it.
“All of it [the money] went to his current wife [James’ step mum] as there was no will and it all happened so suddenly. It was horrible.”
To get away from the situation, James moved from Norfolk to Leicester, but didn’t have a plan for when he got there, “I did move in with my Aunt when I first moved to Leicester but then obviously because of the feud between the families, and I was refusing to pick a side, I ended up having to leave.
“My step mum took me in, but the same thing happened again; it felt like I didn’t have a place within my own family anymore.”
James, who acted as a career for his mum who suffers with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and chronic Fibromyalgia from the age of 12 when his parents’ marriage broke down, says it’s his sense of humour and self-belief that has kept him going.
“There aren’t a lot of job opportunities in Norfolk, and I was hoping by moving further south I could use my knowledge and skills to get a stable job. It’s just unfortunate things haven’t quite worked out as I had hoped so far.”
Keval Dattani, co-founder of Mo Bros, said,
“James has been through a lot and he’s only 22-years-old. When we listened to his story, my brothers and I knew we had to do something to help him out. There’s no denying he’s had a hard time, but we were struck by how positive he is. People like James are the reason we run the Behind the Beard project. It’s important to us that we can give back to our community in some way, and spending the day with James, watching him enjoy some well-deserved pampering and then helping him secure a trial shift with Everyman Barbers has been hugely rewarding for us.
“We’re excited to hear how James gets on in his new role, and can’t wait to see what good we can do through Behind the Beard in 2018.”
Watch James’ story below.