Power of art

Live performances, an art exhibition, and poetry readings were part of a recent showcase of work produced by former rough sleepers.

Since the opening of the ‘Changes’ music studio in King George’s hostel, residents have been able to come together for weekly creative sessions, taking part in sing alongs, recording music and even creating a podcast.

The event, called ‘Looking Forward’, gave the men a chance to showcase their achievements and creativity.

More than 50 pieces of artwork and poetry were displayed on walls and tables, music recorded by the residents ran in the background, and an ‘Encouragement Corner’ provided a blank canvas on which to write inspirational quotes.

Keith, one of King George’s residents, said “I’m overwhelmed seeing most of my artwork here.”

Patience, a resident from a women’s hostel in the area, commented: “It’s gorgeous… to think that they took all that time to do all this… it’s very encouraging.”

Michael’s story

“Michael is an incredibly talented musician and an all-round wonderful human being.”

Michael had been using drugs since he was 15, and spent his life in and out of hostels and prison. He was clean for some time, but his grandmother’s death knocked him back into bad habits, and he lost his flat and ended up back on the streets.

Church Housing Trust funded a music studio at the hostel where he currently lives. He is an exceptionally good guitarist and has become a core member of the music group. Working in the studio allows him to feel supported while expressing himself positively in a safe space. He also attends a world music course and a guitar group once a week.

Despite having very low self-confidence, when Michael plays music he comes out of his shell completely. He has performed for staff, other residents, and guests at open mic events, and often leads the residents’ music group. He is creating a musical portfolio to document his experiences of the street and his journey to re-engage with society.

He is enrolled on a music technology course, funded by Church Housing Trust. He has attended classes every week, made new friends and gained in confidence.