Last week I posted a link on twitter and facebook about the interest in homelessness within literature – https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/aug/09/literature-homelessness-jack-london-george-orwell
This got me thinking about the fact that people experiencing poverty very rarely have opportunity to tell anyone about the lives they lead or their experience. Their lives are very different from those, often from comfortable backgrounds, who spend a few days or even minutes, ‘playing’ at being homeless and who then get a book on it published. The vast majority of people living a life of homelessness or extreme poverty have little or no time, nor opportunity, to write about their experience or get it published, or even to participate in creativity through writing or painting, or whatever other art form.
This is why at Hope we have always chosen to find opportunities to give homeless and excluded people a voice, or way of expressing themselves creatively. We run a weekly art group, a crafts group, and other groups for creative writing, photography and in the past, pottery. These opportunities provide people with a few minutes to get away from the grind of looking for food, shelter and work, or the mental health or addiction problems they suffer from. Writing, making something or painting are activities that soothe souls, and enable people to express something about the lives they lead. We have a duty to give voice to people otherwise with no opportunity, and we will carry on doing so as much as time, volunteering and finance allows us: and give chances for the rest of society to see and hear the lives of homeless people. if anyone is interested in helping run such groups, please contact us.
One of our day centre users has a particular talent painting portraits in oils and his work is exhibited regularly at our art shows – there will be another in a few weeks. They are always a big hit with visitors too. With his permission I attach one of them here: