Hi, I’m Hayley and I am a member of the HOME festival steering group. The steering group comes together regularly to decide what the HOME festival will look like. And my have we been busy. There is so much to look forward to…
There are many exciting events taking place throughout the week of the festival. These events will feature the work of people with lived experiences of homelessness. There’ll be an art exhibition showcasing the work of local artists, including my own work. There’ll be an open mic night featuring poetry, spoken word, and music. There’ll be films and documentaries to watch. There’ll be a creative hub where lots of activities will take place. Outside the creative hub, there’ll be more activities, including an interactive life-size game of Homeless Monopoly, which will help people learn about the many routes into homelessness, the issues faced by those who find themselves in this position, and some of the support available in the city. There’ll be a family day, too, so everyone, old and young, can come along and take part. Arts and Homelessness International are producing a three-day summit of talks around the theme of homelessness. There is all this, and a few surprises too, so make sure you keep up to date with all the latest news and updates.
I’m especially pleased to let you know that we will also be exhibiting the international ‘Send a Smile’ postcard project. This project came about as a response to send a creative activity to those experiencing deep isolation in hotels and hostels during the lockdown. Homeless people were put up in hotels and hostels to keep them safe but most of them had no access to the outside world as they didn’t have smartphones or laptops. Beth, who I work with at Underground Lights Community Theatre, and I came up with the idea of sending blank postcards to be decorated with words or images of things that made the recipients smile during lockdown. Our hope was that thinking about smiling would bring joy to those taking part and bring some relief from the struggle of being isolated. The project was a great success and ended up being delivered to homeless communities all around the globe. I have seen all the postcards and they are beautiful. To have them all exhibited together here in Coventry makes me feel really proud, and I know you will enjoy seeing them too, so do check them out if you can.
As well as deciding how the festival looks, steering group members also have had the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. We have chosen specific parts of the festival that we would like to work on. I’m working on the postcard project, of course, but I am also helping curate the art exhibition. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it has been interesting to find out how an exhibition is put together. As someone who has been homeless three times, I never thought I would be able to do something like this. Some of the events also offering training, so I hope to be doing that too. So, as you can see, not only is the festival going to be a spectacular arts event, it’s also an incredible learning experience for audiences and those of us involved too.
There’s not much time left and still so much to do but I’m super excited about the festival and I hope to see you there.