26 July 2021

Calum Senyah, 11-year-old son of Lisa Taylor, early childhood/education studies lecturer at UEL, recently donated his hair to The Little Princess Trust - and helped change the way the charity operated.

Calum, who is mixed heritage, and his mother Lisa, helped the trust make the change from synthetic Afro hair wigs to real ones.  The trust provides free real hair wigs to children and young people, up to 24 years of age, who have lost their own hair through cancer treatment or other conditions.

Calum is mixed Ghanaian and English/Irish heritage and attends Portway Primary in Plaistow. He enjoyed having long hair but, after seeing his cousin Robyn donate her hair to the trust, he decided to do the same. 

In September 2020, Lisa ordered the fundraising pack to set a date to cut Calum's hair and raise funds.  Upon receiving the promotional materials, Lisa realised that the real hair wigs the charity made for black and mixed-race children were made from straight hair which was later curled into the requested style. She then contacted The Princess Trust to discuss how she could assist them in finding a way to use Afro hair in Afro wigs.

After Lisa contacted me, I explained that we were in discussions around finding a solution for Afro wigs, but the challenge was around the genetic structure of the wigs that was easily susceptible to damage and many wig makers said they just could not make them.

"Lisa was a key person and a firm ally and, even though there were myriad challenges, was determined to assist me in finding wig manufacturers in order to achieve inclusivity.  I am very grateful for her support and assistance in achieving this goal,"

Phil Brace, CEO of The Princess Trust, said.

Lisa said, "Phil was incredibly supportive and understanding when I voiced my concerns. He wanted to achieve this full inclusivity and I am thrilled that they have achieved this."

On 18 June, Calum was finally able to go to Headmasters in Mayfair and get hairdresser Andrew Barton to cut his hair. Calum also used his visit to raise funds and awareness for The Little Princess Trust.

Lisa Taylor joined UEL through the New Beginnings course for mature learners in 2013 and is now a lecturer in the School of Education & Communities.

She said, "I am incredibly proud of Calum wanting to be part of this initiative. Inclusion is so vital, and this gives black and mixed children the opportunity to donate their hair and feel a sense of pride in donating to a good cause."

To support Calum's fundraising, please go to the Just Giving page.

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