Web campaign raises $50,000 for 89-year-old barber hit by London looters


While British Prime Minister David Cameron threatens to shut down social networks to help stop future citizen uprisings, an online word-of-mouth campaign has helped an elderly barber, who’s business was destroyed by rioters, get back on his feet.

Started by a trio of creative interns at the renowned London advertising agency BBH, the Keep Aaron Cutting campaign aims to help 89-year-old hair-cutter Aaron Biber rebuild his barbershop after looters ransacked his establishment, which he has owned and operated in London’s Tottenham neighborhood for 41 years.

The theft and destruction has left Biber with next to nothing. “I will probably have to close because I haven’t got insurance and I can’t afford the repairs,” Biber said in a statement.

So far, compassionate Internet users have donated more than £31,000, or about $50,000, at the time of this writing. This has been accomplished primarily through social networking, along with a video about Mr. Biber’s plight, and a website where concerned citizens of the world can chip in “a couple of quid,” as the site suggests.

Approximately 11,000 people have shared the website on Facebook, and about 8,500 have posted the page to Twitter. Your reporter discovered the campaign for Mr. Biber on Reddit (a community widely known for its generosity towards those less fortunate), where the link was posted six different times.

The BBH interns did not immediately return our request for comment on how much the campaign hopes to raise for Mr. Biber’s shop.

Keep Aaron Cutting is not the only online campaign hoping to get some help from the Internet at large.

A similar effort, Save Siva’s Shop, has helped raise more than $21,600 dollars for a convenience store owner (named Siva), who cannot afford to replace the merchandise that was stolen or destroyed during the riots.

In another example of Internet-spread kindness, a viral video of rioters mercilessly stealing a Sony PSP from an injured 20-year-old man prompted the company to publicly vow to replace his stolen gaming device. This came after Sony itself suffered massive damage to one of its distribution centers, which was set ablaze during London’s chaos.

Before their charitable campaigns were created, both Mr. Biber and Siva benefited from having pictures of their destroyed businesses published across the Internet. Mr. Biber appeared in a photo by Getty photographer Dan Kitwood (above), which was published in the Boston Globe‘s popular photo-journalism blog The Big Picture. Siva appeared in a photo by Reuters photographer Olivia Harris, which appeared on The Atlantic‘s In Focus photo blog, which also shows the photo of Mr. Biber.

Watch a video of Mr. Biber below:

Keep Aaron Cutting from BBH Barn on Vimeo.