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My Bristol: founder of The Beauty of Caring, Natacha Sullivan

Meet social beautician and founder of The Beauty of Caring, Natacha Sullivan.

I’m originally from Paris but my connection to Bristol is through my English husband, who has lived here and been a part of the city’s music scene for many years. What makes Bristol unique for me is its very distinctive art, music and food scene, and the beautiful countryside close by. I find people here are very friendly and interested in what I do so the longer I stay, the more it feels like my city.

The Beauty of Caring is the name of my project that was set up with the purpose of bringing ‘social beauty’ to the local community. A social beautician is a trained professional who works with vulnerable, physically and/or mentally ill people in hospitals, prisons, charities and care homes. We offer beauty treatments such as manicures, massages and facials, but, most importantly, we bring empathy to our work and provide people with an opportunity to speak about their lives. In my country, a social beautician is a recognised profession, but in the UK it’s relatively unknown. The motivation to launch The Beauty of Caring started while I was applying for jobs. It became clear that all the qualifications I had while working as a social beautician in France weren’t valued here. It made me realise that I either had to give up the job I loved, or I had to work hard to bring it to the UK via the city I love – Bristol.

Caring about others is the key point of my job. Kindness and a non-judgmental perception are so important when the world feels as though it is falling apart. A beauty treatment is an incredible way to connect with others – it’s an amazing way of communication like dance or music therapy. When I do the treatments, even in France with various vulnerable people, I always see the positive impact it has on them. Accepting others the way that they are and understanding who they are and what they have is so important – it encourages me to do my best when I sit down with them. What I love about being a social beautician is that you see real life and see the world through other perspectives.

As ‘social beauty’ is an unknown concept in the UK, I work on a voluntary basis. Volunteering with Bristol Outreach Services for the Homeless (BOSH: @boshoutreach) and Eddie’s Street Cuts (@eddiestreetscuts). I meet them in St James’s Park one Sunday per month. I do 1-1 sessions where I cut people’s nails and do a hand or a head massage – they choose what is best for them. These treatments encourage people to talk to me about anything and everything. I check in with them and find how they are and how their month has been. Once we have an inside space, I am looking forward to creating a therapeutic hygiene program and launching workshops with our street friends. I also volunteer with One25 (@one25_charity), who reach out to some of Bristol’s most marginalised women. For them it’s an occasion to rest and relax. Many regain self-esteem and learn new things – I am learning a lot from them too. There is mutual respect surrounded with kindness.

If I could give a shout-out to anyone this month, it would be Julie Dempster at BOSH and Eddie Ilic who gave me a chance to be part of their team. Julie is such an incredible woman who’s doing so much for our street friends. Eddie dedicates his time to doing haircuts for various homeless charities in Bristol and Bath.

Japan has a special place in my heart and I love to eat at Izakaya in the city centre – I love their Takoyaki. The Watershed is one of my favourite places to go for a drink. I also love to go to the Arnolfini to see an exhibition and spend time at their incredible library. They have a cool range of Japanese design books – don’t forget to stop at their café bar too!

If I could have dinner with anyone from any era, I would love to spend time with all my family members who are not here anymore. Having them would be such a special and beautiful moment, especially with my Spanish grandparents, I would love to tell them about my English life.

My philosophy in life is: if you have an idea, a project, anything that makes you happy, do everything you can to make it real – persevere and always believe on yourself.

Follow Natacha Sullivan on Instagram and Facebook at: @thebeautyofcaring_uk and keep up to date with The Beauty of Caring at: thebeautyofcaring.wixsite.com