by Ge Allan
While the majority of us are safe in our homes and stocked up with food, there are a huge number of people living in temporary or emergency accommodation during lockdown.
These places provide safety for people who have either lost their job and house during the crisis, or were already homeless, and who would otherwise be sleeping on the streets.
Even before the health emergency, the number of people accessing temporary accommodation was increasing dramatically. Since the government stated they would house every homeless person during the pandemic, temporary accommodation and homelessness charities have been overwhelmed.
Suffering from the issues surrounding access to food, as well as an increased threat of catching the virus, a team of volunteers based in Brighton (one of the worst places for homelessness outside London in the UK) has formed to supply a DIY activity pack, or zine, for people currently isolated in temporary accommodation.
We talked to Elise Bean, who together with Alex Proctor, helped form The Creative Post. Both are members of a volunteer group supported by the homeless charity The Passage, and the idea behind creating a zine was to provide people with a collaborative creative outlet, while also giving useful mental health and housing advice. Below, Elise discusses how the project emerged, and what they expect for the future.
How did the project emerge?
The project came about from a group of volunteers meeting each week to pool resources and information during covid-19. This was headed up by a wonderful co-ordinator, Joe Baldock, who works for The Passage.
Whilst the very important issues surrounding food and accommodation are being dealt with, my mind turned to mental health and how we could help in that regard. I'd read how other councils were delivering 'activity' packs, and I thought we could do better than that and create something more personal.
Most importantly, I wanted to try and support the battle against feelings of isolation, so we've made the zine as interactive as possible. We have a text and email service, and we want it to be a grass roots: the dream is for those receiving the zine to be able to contribute and make it there own.
We have a collective of people helping to make it: artists, puzzle makers, story tellers, maths teachers, poets! The majority are local (to Brighton), but one person lives in Holland and a few others are in different parts of the UK.
We also have volunteers who will be collecting physical submissions and feedback for the zine, so you don't need technology to get involved! We're handing out the first issue with coloured pencils so we're hoping everyone who receives it and wants to be involved can be, regardless of circumstances.
What type of content is in the zine?
Each issue has a different theme. We launched with CREATIVITY, and are doing COLLABORATION for the next issue. Regarding content, we have a 'how to draw' page, colouring in, puzzles, word searches, creative writing, poetry, some advice on the benefits of creativity and mindfulness, and a signposting page for local services and how to access food.
Has it been challenging to gather content, cooperate with temporary accommodation and get the zine to the people you want to provide it to?
It hasn't been challenging so far gathering content, I have some really amazing artists supporting the project and we have a lot of material backed up. I think the most challenging part is getting the right material in time for the specific themes!
Regarding temporary accommodation, we haven't had issues. I think anyone who works within this sector is seeing the real need for things like this and are wanting to be as supportive as they can be. We're also working with other local services to try and reach 'the hidden' homeless - we're trying to reach as many people as we can.
How can people get in touch?
If anyone would like to get involved in The Creative Post they can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to them! If anyone has housing issues in Brighton please speak to either their key worker, or contact St Mungo's who will refer them. Regarding volunteering in Brighton please follow this link and sign up!
The Creative Project is currently being circulated in Brighton but they hope it can spread to different cities. Elise wishes to thank The Passage, Holland Road Baptist Church and Alex Proctor who is the co-editor and designer of The Creative Post.
Further information regarding homelessness and emergency housing can be found at the following links -
Ge Allan is the Film Editor of the Radical Art Review