Humanity In Its Qualitative Richness, “The Most Precious Thing I Have in My Possession Is …” Photography Exhibition - November/December 2017

 

Threshold presented their first Interactive Photography Exhibition on the 23rd November 2017 in the Brunel Shopping Centre in the retail heart of Swindon. The exhibition was the result of an innovative engagement project with the aim of raising awareness of the homelessness crisis by presenting the issues that impact upon the lives of homeless individuals in an authentic and sensitive way. Participants shared the most precious things they have in their possession.

The Exhibition featured 49 x A0 sized Fine Art quality images along with poetry, and a selection of extraordinary sculptures. Each image was accompanied with a QR code, that when scanned - instantly connected the visitor directly with the voices of the artist and connecting the public directly with their personal narratives and stories.

The exhibition was supported by Threshold Services Users, Catalent and Nationwide volunteers. Service Users that have been involved and volunteered at the Exhibition confirm an experience of ‘being seen and treated differently’ and this has been a catalyst and powerful motivator to their personal transformation.

 

The exhibition garnered massive exposure and public interest across Swindon, feedback was emphatically positive and the exhibition was supported by a growing list of corporate supporters and sponsors - Swindon Brunel, Swindon Wildcats, Triple 2 Coffee and Catalent. The biggest winners were the residents and participants themselves. Residents shared their personal reflections when interviewed on BBC Wiltshire Radio, 105.5FM Community Radio and had the opportunity to read authentic poetry live on air.

 

A total of 1653 individuals visited the exhibition over the 6 week period.

Here is a selection of how the public described its impact:

 “It was interesting to see and understand more regards homeless people. How they can be so misunderstood in our community.”

“This exhibition has proven to be a brave and exciting venture which in my opinion has been a roaring success. The best quality of this exhibition is the community and warm reception you receive upon entering, coupled with a great art and powerful message.”

“I found the stories very moving, reduced me to tears and really helped raise awareness.”

“This exhibition helps to raise awareness that homeless people are exactly the same as everybody else. The exhibition shows the humanity and uniqueness of each individual.”

“I found it very inspiring and very moving. The art and the stories behind it were beautiful. What a marvellous idea. If only it were open for longer. The men working there were so helpful and I could tell they were very passionate and proud. So they should be!”

Below are some excerpts from our Services Users that volunteered their time at the Exhibition. This is how what they share about how it impacted on them:

“I’ve not only really enjoyed this – I’ve needed this! Otherwise I would have been street drinking”. (CC Resident)

“The Exhibition and the shop has been the locus for a great deal of generosity, compassion and understanding.  Alot of people have come in and have been informed and educated about the local issues of homelessness in Swindon. We have been educating the public about the real and various reasons behind homelessness”.

I’ve witnessed on many occasions the emotional reactions many members of the public have had in response to hearing the voices and personal stories of contributors in the exhibition. I have witnessed a woman come in, engage with the work and hear the stories and be reduced to tears and have to leave, as it was all too raw and emotional … and then she returned the following day. She made a donation each occasion”.

“On the whole the exhibition went very well”.

“I personally learned how to talk to people and overcome my shyness of people and to turn negative conversation into a positive one. I also learned that feedback was also a positive thing”.

“It was a very satisfying exhibition and well done to everybody that took part in it”.

“What is next for me is to get a job or continue doing more voluntary work. I haven't got anyone to write me a reference as yet my previous employers were not that good at writing references for anyone not just me. The other two jobs have closed down now as well. Please would you kindly be a referee for me”. (Resettlement Resident)

“I liked seeing my Sculptures up on display and set out professionally on plinths. I helped Jim make the plinths for them. I loved seeing people’s reactions to my work and the competition to guess the Angels’ name was great! I’m interested to see the public’s opinions and choice of names. This has definitely been the biggest exposure I’ve had for my sculptures. I’ve loved being involved in this exhibition. I’ve reconnected with my Dad, who was passing the exhibition saw one of my sculptures and asked after me! I’d lost contact with my Dad 5 years ago. It has been really good to reconnect with him”. (Resettlement Resident)

 “I witnessed a young girl come in with her father, she must have been 10 or 11. She asked what she could do to help because as she explained, she’d given a sandwich and a packet of chips to a rough sleeper in a doorway and she was so moved by how hungry he was and how quickly he had scoffed them down. She wanted to know how she could help”.

“Volunteering at the Exhibition has really opened my eyes. I’ve heard many stories of people that have come through the other side of homelessness. I’ve been so surprised by how many people that have visited the exhibition and have said to me – I have been homeless before and have struggled through difficult times in their life. It’s been eye opening for me personally to see directly how many supporters of homelessness there are”.

“I have enjoyed being involved in this project, engaging directly with the public and interfacing with them. This initiative has been really good for me”. (CC Resident)

If you missed the exhibition, you can see it all here.

 

 

Our First Homelessness Awareness Weekend

In an effort to widen the conversation around the issue of homelessness in Swindon, we held our first coffee morning, in partnership with Swindon Nightshelter, on the 27th January 2018 at the Gateway Furniture Project. 58 individuals came to meet us throughout the morning, which shows the concerns of Swindonians in the issue and their willingness to help.

homelessness awareness weekend 2017 

We took this opportunity to present our charity, our services, to share the latest facts and figures regarding rough sleeping in England but specifically in our town (see below) but most importantly what we can all do to make a positive change.

rough sleeping statistics swindon 2018

 

Graeme, our CEO, says:During the last seven years, homelessness in all its forms has risen uncontrollably fuelled by changes to benefits, a flawed housing policy with an over reliance on private landlords, the austerity agenda and the cutting of vital services. This has created a perfect storm where demand is at its highest and resources at their lowest. Nearly 130,000 children spent last Christmas in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels. In Swindon alone 45 individuals were counted sleeping rough in a snapshot count in November. Over the course of a year this equates to over 150 different people forced to sleep rough.

Neither the government in Westminster nor Swindon Council have a joined up strategy to make best use of resources. Decisions are often made where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. There are some great ideas and initiatives which in isolation are not sustainable. What we need is a plan!

Well we’ve got a plan, to reduce the number of people on our streets, to improve people’s life chances and get them back on the road to recovery. To provide support and housing whilst they develop their confidence, skills and self-esteem and find work, build relationships and hold down successful tenancies. All of this requires time as well as money. You can help in so many ways. Write to your MP or ward councillor, do a sponsored swim to raise money and awareness, talk to friends and colleagues about the true situation, volunteer in one of the many and varied roles and make a practical difference but most of all don’t be silent or complicit. Homelessness is not inevitable!”

If you would like more information about volunteering, please click here. If you would like to fundraise for Threshold, please email us at adminthreshold@thl.org.uk

Homelessness Awareness Coffee Morning - 27/01/18

 

Concerned about Swindon's homelessness? Interested to know more and how you could help?

Come and join us for a coffee/tea and a slice of cake on Saturday 27th January 2018 from 11am until 2pm at The Gateway Furniture Project in Havelock Street, Swindon Town Centre, SN1 1LE 

Volunteers Needed For Our Homelessness Awareness Weekend

 

Are you concerned by the rise in homelessness particularly in Swindon? Would you like to make a difference but don’t know how you could help?

We are looking for Volunteers Speakers to help us spread awareness of this issue to their community during the Homelessness Awareness Weekend, 27th & 28th January 2018.

If you are interested please contact us via email at adminthreshold@thl.org.uk or phone us on 01793 524661. 

Threshold present their first interactive Photographic Exhibition in a major free public and community Expo.

The exhibition features:  49 x AO sized Fine Art quality images, created and captured by service users (homeless individuals) of Threshold Swindon. Each art image is accompanied with individual QR codes so that visitors to the exhibition can scan the QR code on their own mobile device and instantly be connected to the artist, hear their voice and their short personal story of what they describe is the most precious thing they have in their possession. In addition to the prints, there is a small selection of sculpture and poetry, also created by service users.

 

Some narrations are as short as 8 seconds, others are a little over a minute in length. Each image and narrative is deeply personal, providing a glimpse into the existential and phenomenological realities in the lives of homeless people and the impact that scant but precious objects, or emotionally charged memories, can provide hope and metaphorical, philosophical, or tangible lifelines for these individuals.

 

What they hold dear to their heart and what they cherish the most.

The exhibition celebrates humanity in its qualitative richness and this beating heart within us all.

 

Exhibition is Open Daily, staffed by residents of Threshold

Friday 24th Nov through to New Year’s Eve

 

@ 5, The Plaza, Brunel Shopping Centre, Swindon, SN1 1LF

Swindon // 1 John Street // SN1 1RT

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