A two-year arts project focussing on the lives of homeless people in Cardiff that aims to break down some of the barriers they face was launched today.
Share a Life is a partnership project between Cardiff Council, Glenwood Church and National Museum Wales that seeks to raise the profile of those experiencing homelessness by telling their story through a collection of portraits and monologues.
The Council has worked closely with Glenwood Church over a number of years and TAV's community centre in Roath, which is run by the church, provides a night shelter and overflow emergency accommodation for rough sleepers during the winter period.
Through the Council's homeless outreach team who work daily with vulnerable individuals on the streets, Glenwood Church volunteer and artist Katherine Holmes has been introduced to a number of rough sleepers and hostel residents at Ty Tresillian and Green Farm, spent time listening to their stories and then created paintings inspired by those narratives.
The sessions provided an opportunity for homeless individuals, some who were previously hard to reach, to have a positive experience while accessing help and in a relaxed atmosphere, enabled an improved relationship to be established between them and staff providing support services.
At the end of the project, an exhibition will be held showcasing the entire range of artworks, including Katherine's portraits, poems based on the life stories developed by Phil Ellis from Glenwood Church and verbatim monologues adapted from interviews with the participants, performed by theatre company, Going Public. If the featured people are still in touch with the project at that stage, they will be given their portrait to keep.
Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne, said: "Earlier this year, we held a conference bringing togetherorganisations and individuals keen to help the homeless in Cardiff and the consensus was that we needed to do something different.
"This project is certainly something different, innovative and challenging as it's seeking to break down the barriers of homelessness, engage the communities around us and encourage people to listen to the personal stories of these vulnerable people.
"So far, our outreach team have noticed how the project has had a really positive effect on the participants. It's been a boost for their self-esteem, helped them feel less isolated and let them know that their stories need to be heard and are valued. We are hoping that through the project and by taking the first step of telling their story that in some instances will never have been shared before, more homeless individuals will become engaged with the wide range of support services we have in the city that can help them move away from a street-based lifestyle to begin to rebuild their lives again.
"I'm really pleased we are involved in this and look forward to seeing and hearing the exhibition and performances at the conclusion of the project."
Paul Francis, Glenwood Church Leader, said: "We are thrilled to be part of this project that seeks to use creative arts to engage with and help tell the stories of some of the most vulnerable people in Cardiff. Through her gift as an artist, Katharine Holmes, captures some of the heart and soul of the people she meet with. The creative arts can say something that words can't communicate. We hope that through these stories some of the barriers will be broken down."