A SCHEME which is transforming the lives of some of the poorest people in Cuba is being supported by a hairdresser from Yeadon.

John Allen was inspired by the work being carried by the island's most famous hairdresser, Papito, who has set up a school to teach the trade to underprivileged children - giving them the chance to make a living.

John went out to Havana earlier this year to teach students and to donate scissors to hairdressers and barbers.

"I found that the majority of the scissors being used by the Cuban hairdressers and barbers were blunt and a lot of the electrical equipment was held together with tape, but the quality of the workmanship was great," he said.

John, who runs a business with his wife wife Katy said: "We first got involved with a project called www.scissorsforcuba.com.this was set up by a hairdresser called Papito who is Cuba's most famous hairdresser. He even had a meeting with former American president Obama last year and he spoke about Papito when he addressed the Cuban people.

"Papito transformed the street where he lived into what is now known as Barber Alley.He set up a school to teach youngsters from deprived backgrounds and deaf students. One of the projects was to build a scissor monument and get hairdressers from around the world to donate their old scissors to put on the monument which would be symbol of unity for hairdressers around the world."

"Apart from being hairdressers in Yeadon,we own a hairdressing scissor company, so we set about collecting scissors and sending them to Cuba."

John went out to Cuba with his daughter Bronte who is fluent in Spanish and who helped with his demonstrations.

"What we found when we arrived in Cuba, was the hairdressers and barbers were cutting hair with blunt or kitchen scissors,and struggling to make a living. Fortunately we had taken 32 scissors and lots of of hairdressing equipment. So we just walked round the back streets, visiting salons and giving them the tools they desperately needed.We are still collecting scissors to give to the Cuban hairdressers and in November we have a hairdresser who is visiting Cuba and she will take more equipment over for us."

John added: "One of the highlights of the trip was finding Williams a 24 year old self

taught barber working in a corner of an alley surrounded by piles of rubble. He was creating

great haircuts with a pair of kitchen scissors, a razor blade and a pair of clippers that were held

together with tape. Williams was featured on the front page of the New York Times last year,

with a headline saying With a little you can achieve a lot."