Interview: People of the Streets
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People of the Streets is a creative organisation that aims to support the homeless community and help homeless people in the UK express what it is like to be homeless.
A lot of this is done through the art of photography, however as you see below there may be more added to the exhibitions. People of the Streets host a few exhibitions, one of the more recent ones called Stories of the Streets, is now available for viewing in Nottingham. We chatted to managing director Charles Kerr about this latest initiative.
'Fenced in', taken by Danny Leverton
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People of the Streets CIC and its initiative Stories of the Streets focus on supporting homeless people and offer them an opportunity to contribute to photographic exhibitions, illustrating their stories and experiences of managing life on the streets.
Who is it lead by and why was it started?
The social enterprise was established by three students, Charles Kerr, Alex Greenhalgh and Qas Hussain in Nottingham to achieve three key objectives. First, to alleviate some of the struggles through packs of essential items distributed to homeless shelters in cities across the UK. Second, to provide opportunities for those who are homeless to ‘break the cycle’. And third, to attack the stigmas associated with those homeless and break down negative stereotypes, through projects like Stories of the Streets. We started the social enterprise at University as a way of giving back to wider society and the community we are studying in.
When you were finding photographers for the project, what was their initial reaction? How are they doing now?
We worked closely with homeless shelters Emmanuel House and Canaan Trust for Stories. The initial reaction was one of great intrigue and a willingness to take part. On the opening night of the exhibition a number of them stayed right until the end to explain their pictures and chat to everyone! They're doing good, after speaking to both them and the people who run the shelters, the exhibition has really positively impacted on their lives and inspired change.
We are Imperfect, taken by David King
Does People of the Streets have any plans to incorporate other mediums of art into the project?
This is a great question, as we've recently been approached by an individual who's experienced homelessness to showcase one of his poems in the exhibition. It's hard-hitting, but impactful nontheless.
How might your exhibit influence others and change their perspectives and also just create change as a whole?
We hope the exhibition will allow people to open their minds in changing their perceptions of homelessness as an issue. People can be homeless for a variety of reasons and every reason is unique. We hope we inspire people to visit the exhibition, donate some spare clothes, buy one of the prints or even our 2018 calendar.
Does People of the Streets have any other similar projects lined up?
Indeed we do! So as part of Beat the Streets in Nottingham, we'll have a smaller version of the exhibition running in Rough Trade. However, we have plans to organise a new exhibition in Manchester in March/April time to fit around busy final year university workloads…
You can find out more about People of the Streets, and see some photographs from the latest exhibition here.