A hairdresser from Renfrewshire had a taste of La Dolce Vita, thanks to a two-week Italian exchange.

Robbie McLaughlin, who is an apprentice at Rainbow Room International’s (RRI) Crow Road salon in Glasgow, headed off to the town of Lanciano for the trip.

It was an opportunity for Robbie, who is also a youth worker at Renfrewshire Council, and the other apprentices taking part to gain not just work experience but also real-life experience – travelling without their families, working different shift patterns and understanding the different ways hairdressers work in other countries.

The Gazette:

After arriving and having a chance to settle in, Robbie and the others enjoyed a pizza night at which they met the team from Connect Abruzzo - an agency which organises work placements.

The following day, they took part in a treasure hunt to learn more about the area and its history before carrying out their salon introductions on the fourth and fifth days.

The Gazette:

The apprentices then began three days of work before having two days off, giving them the chance to head to the beach, take part in pasta-making and enjoy a trip to Rome.

Robbie, who is from Paisley, told The Gazette: “The pasta class was definitely one of my favourite things that I did - and also going to Rome.”

The Gazette:

The project was designed so that all of the apprentices felt they had their own independence. 

Indeed, RRI's academy directors and trainers left Lanciano after four days, leaving the students in the hands of Connect Abruzzo, who were always on hand to guide them to where they needed to be and provide them with support where required.

The Gazette:

Director of the RRI Academy Laura Leigh Kerr organised the visit following a Swedish Exchange Programme which saw saw two girls from Sweden spend two weeks on placement at RRI.

Two trainees from RRI also visited Sweden and the success of this prompted her to push for a bigger exchange programme.

The Gazette:

She said: “I’m so glad all the students had an incredible time during their trip to Italy. 

"It was an amazing opportunity for them, where they could experience a different lifestyle and build on their life skills, whilst improving their confidence and self-esteem.

The Gazette:

"The group got to learn from the team in the salons but they also got to teach them what they know and how we do things in the UK too, making it a mutually-beneficial partnership."