Homeless by Matt

Homeless

What does homelessness look like to you?…
A guy on the park bench with a bag full of glue?
Or the man sat in the subway with nothing to do?
What does homelessness look like to you?

How homeless do you think you are?
Sure you’ve got a nice house and a job and a car
But you really don’t know quite how fragile they are
How homeless do you think you are?

Six months ago I had it all
Two kids and a girlfriend, pictures on the wall
And to everyone looking in I had it all
Six months ago I did have it all

But then one day everything broke
Arguing over nothing, the monster awoke
Went from being ‘me with a house’ to ‘that homeless bloke”
Cause one day everything broke

And so then I’m out on the street
Two quid in my pocket and nothing to eat
Relying on others for somewhere to sleep
It’s that or I’m out on the street

So what I am trying to say?
You never quite know how your life’s going to sway
We’re all so naïve thinking life’s all ok
You don’t know how life’s going to sway

If you’ve suffered with your mental health
You’ll know it’s intrinsically tied to the state of your wealth
And it’s one sneaky fucker, not overt, it’s stealth,
When you suffer with bad mental health

Let’s say you break up, and like that’s not bad enough
Your friends can’t help you and then you’re out sleeping rough
And the cold, and the pity and shame is so tough
When you’re out on the street sleeping rough

You try your best to keep your job
But thinking of life makes you act like a slob
And sooner or later you give it some gob
And your boss lets you go from that job

No job, and no house – but hey, you’ve got your car
But it don’t run on nothing – fresh air won’t get you far
The car loan payments get missed and you’re under the stars
Now no job and no house and the bank took your car.

Two months of no money, no food and no rent
And if your friends can’t help you, your money’s all spent
Then you’ll find yourself on the same slippery descent
No money, no food and no rent

How homeless do you think you are?
Take a look in the mirror, don’t have to look far
Look around at your house and your job and your car
How homeless do you think you are?

Next time you see someone homeless – don’t just pass by
For “There but for the good grace of God go I”
And even though the thought of this might just be risible
They are still a human, not fucking invisible

So where would you go if your life’s in a state?
To the angels in blue, if you’re in Harrogate
With warm beds and support they put food on your plate
If you’re homeless & your life’s in a state

You’ll never quite know the good work they do
With smiles and compassion & hoodies of blue
And not one person will they ever reject
The angels at the Harrogate Homeless Project.

Matt 2017

Matt was a resident at Harrogate Homeless Project, and has recently moved into more independent living. This poem is about his own experiences.

Thank you to Charlotte from HHP for sending this to us, and Matt for giving us permission to publish it on the blog.

Advertisements
Homeless by Matt

Saboteur Awards 2016

Last Friday, Becky, Steve and Tessa travelled down to London for the Saboteur Awards, where Haunt was shortlisted for Best Collaborative Work. We didn’t win (you can see the full list of winners here http://www.saboteurawards.org/), but we got to meet some great people, including A.B. Cooper and Sarah Miles from Paper Swans Press, and had an excellent night celebrating the health of poetry, spoken word and performance at the moment.

When we got back there was an email waiting with comments from those who had voted for Haunt. What was really striking was how everyone who commented got what Haunt is about. They understood the project, and what we’re trying to achieve.

Thank you to everyone who did vote for us, and your continued support. As Becky says in her blog post we make no apologies for sharing them here:

Haunt addresses very real issues in a new and innovative way.

A brave collaboration which aims to celebrate voices that are rarely heard whilst creating innovative work of high artistic quality.

It gives a voice to the voiceless.

Standing way above the rest with originality and great collaboration shining through the work.

Because they are great!

Brilliant project about homelessness which has produced a genuinely lovely book.

Moving, innovative project that gets to the heart of a city.

They are doing very important work in a creative, innovative way.

A wonderful fully cooperative project, raising the profile of a group of people often hidden from sight in towns like Harrogate. Gives them a voice in an original way.

The quality of the work and the depth and range of the community involvement.

Writing in the ultimate social sense.

Shockingly direct and unselfpitying accounts of people’s lives below the surface appearances of how things are meant to be.

It challenges cultural stereotypes and highlights that homelessness can be present in even the most well to do societies.

Because I grew up in Harrogate so this caught my attention and then haunted my dreams.

Innovative, forward thinking productions always, opening up debate about things that really matter. Very original way of looking at things, and opening the door to solutions.

A wonderful anthology giving a creative outlet to hidden voices and hidden talent and one that has made a real difference to the writers involved.

Innovation and fun.

Integrity.

I was particularly enthralled by Richard Harries.

Because the project allowed people who would likely otherwise be left out of arts activity to engage and get enjoyment from finding a voice.

The project has helped vulnerable people to have a voice.

For making a rather invisible subject visible through creativity and warmth. Inspiring, artistically brilliant and socially important.

Great piece on a growing issue in Yorkshire.

Managing to combine a great cause with some great stories. Giving opportunities and experience whilst raising awareness. All round a fab project.

Powerful work. Project which engaged and supported a group who really need it.

Well written and a great piece of work.

Brilliant work.

In aid of such a well deserved cause.

They’re the best collaborative work.

Excellent.

This is a beautifully haunting trip through the other side of Harrogate. The writing is powerful. It may just highlight the reality of towns and cities to the invisible people that are present there.

Just love it.

Covers an important and often neglected area of life with great sensitivity and empathy.

Very moving, on the important issue of homelessness, with participants who have been encouraged to express their real life experiences.

The book produced is great and the ongoing work of the project is raising awareness of homelessness in a town which many people wouldn’t believe has a problem.

My home town is perceived as affluent and privileged. Growing up there, I’ve often called it a schizophrenic town. In Haunt we see the other side, portrayed in a way the posh half would appreciate.

Because they are reaching out to include the excluded in society.

Intrinsic, honest, moving

They have achieved real social value as well as creative worth artistically.

amazing & evocative work

Extraordinary work tapping into the imaginations and the life experiences of some of the most marginalised people in the region.

Fantastic project, really opening people’s eyes to another side of posh Harrogate.

Because while there’s homelessness, we are all haunted, and this project is making a tangible impact.

They have done some amazing projects with the youth hostels that has been really effective

Positive work with the complex young people we support.

Amazing and moving.

Fantastic project that worked so well with our service users to produce some beautiful work

Really important project working with vulnerable people

Great project, giving people their own voice.

Having experienced homelessness and seen it’s impact first hand on many others in my hometown, this is an innovative and valuable project.

This is a genuinely collaborative project with one of the most excluded groups in society. It has led to some great art as well as opening up new opportunities for socially excluded individuals.

Because the project reminds us that homelessness and transient lives aren’t just a ‘far-away’ problem of big cities and deprived places… and, more importantly, reminds us that the homeless are real people with voices and opinions and likes and dislikes – rather than the blank receptacles for pity or charity that we’re all guilty (at times) of seeing them as.

The work they do raising awareness of the problem of homelessness, particularly in such an apparently affluent area as Harrogate where many do not realise it is happening, is amazing and important.

Because it is powerful and truly collaborative.

To encourage further collaboration between artists and venues that increase local knowledge and situational awareness. What Haunt has produced is not just a splendid piece of work, but establishes that effective, entertaining multidisciplinary approaches are eminently possibly.

Innovative, creative, inspirational.

The innovative approach to the project and the engagement with the homeless community amongst others who have collaborated on this work has been truly inspiring.

Homelessness education should be important to everyone.

Good writing and good work.

Beautiful powerful project.

The stories they are telling, in the setting they chose, and the way they are telling them.

Extraordinary work from (generally ignored) homeless people.

A sensitive collaboration between professional writers and non-professional, sometimes completely new, writers. Beautiful writing and a poignant insight into human fragility, and the fragility of our perceived ‘security’.

Very moving work about an often ignored issue.

Innovative, inclusive and local, what is not to like?

For helping those who don’t usually have a voice get their stories out there.

They are doing very important and creative work for the local community and are great poets themselves.

An important and deeply emotional project for the socially excluded.

Great collection of stories, well written.

It’s a great enterprise involving many fine Northern talents.

Compassionate and well-crafted responses to current issues of homelessness and the ways that contemporary issues can haunt us by doing as well as doing nothing, through writing and film.

For all the help and awareness they are raising. And the hard work that’s gone into the project.

Saboteur Awards 2016

Haunt Launch Photos, Exhibition at Bean and Bud and Harrogate Advertiser Article

On Tuesday 27th October we held the launch for the Haunt anthology at the Royal Pump Room Museum in Harrogate. With a large audience in attendance Steve introduced the project, talking about the background to the idea. This was followed by readings of the work in the anthology from Steve, Becky, Jem Henderson, Richard Harries and Nick Stirk.

Launch 4 Launch 3 Launch 2 Launch 1 Launch 8 Launch 7 Launch 6 Launch 5

(Photos courtesy of Emma MacEwan)

We’re very grateful for the support from Harrogate Museums that has seen work from Haunt included in the Harrogate Stories exhibition, and enabled us to launch the anthology in a building so synonymous with Harrogate’s spatown.

During the performance we also showcased the photographs taken by Paul Floyd Blake for Haunt. These played behind the writers while they read, creating powerful juxtapositions with the poems and prose.

Paul Floyd Blake’s Haunt photos are currently on show at Bean and Bud in Harrogate.

The anthology is currently available to buy, in person, for £5 from;

Bean and Bud

Royal Pump Room Museum

Mercer Art Gallery

Waterstones Harrogate

This week the Harrogate Advertiser ran a great article about the project.

advertiser article

The next event is on the 11th November in York. Steve and Becky will be performing work from Haunt at Speaker’s Corner in York, the regular spoken word night at The Golden Ball. Entry is £1, with open mic slots available.

Haunt Launch Photos, Exhibition at Bean and Bud and Harrogate Advertiser Article

Launch of Haunt anthology and future workshops

On the 27th October we will be launching the Haunt anthology at the Royal Pump Room Museum. There will be an opportunity to hear work from the project read by participants, contributors as well as Steve Toase and Becky Cherriman. There will also be a chance to find out more about Haunt and the inspiration behind the project. Map.

We will also be running two new workshops on the 24th November and 1st December. These are open to writers and those who would like to write who are experiencing, or have experienced, homelessness or vulnerable housing in Harrogate.

Please click on the images below for more information about both the anthology launch and workshops.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Haunt flyer 1

Haunt flyer 2

Launch of Haunt anthology and future workshops

Waiting for the Morning by Branka Vojinovic-Jegdic

An abandoned building
with a rotten roof
has become now

my sweet home
the dome of my dreams

collapsed forever
like never, my life is in ruins
and lost its dignity and gleam.

Our old, frosted bones
we heat by the fire

the bottle circles,        

forgive me my Lord,

each man has his story

speaking of misery

for bitterness is too late

we are faced with such a bad  fate.

Without own shelter

in brotherhood of       

these homeless men

hungry and almost bare

mist creeps into our hair
without job and hope

the morning brings us

a street washing truck.

Waiting for the Morning by Branka Vojinovic-Jegdic

Howl for Harrogate by Jem Henderson

In a town of white orange tick tock clockwork people,
in among Stray-side green yellow chalybeate sulphur fed succulence opulence,
where skag-addled junk crews ferry deals across the darker areas of town ,
and purple yellow white flowers peek up from ice-crusted drop points under giant looming elm trees,
haunted gaunted hippies waiting for the next big fix,
poverty and speed and endless nights their only source of nutrition,
where one million pound mansions press up next to dole scum queues that lounge under shaded avenues,
where Bilton churches hand out the only warmth and fuel in town, the fires of damnation banked up to keep these paupers warm,
who laugh and shit and cry in mould old stone bedsits, three to a room,
where youth is stamped down by the foot of depression and disability, forever young, untold fractures of fragile minds,
causing nightmares, shivers, DTs, the uncomfortable on the nod gouch in a lonely magnolia hell of their own,
brains full of the nonstop jabber of a lonely schizo on the bus home,
to tell his head friends that at least he spoke to someone that day.
From Broadacre backstreet fighting and gangs, forgotten penury in the town of the rich,
to Duchy Road, the elephant graveyard of the rich old fucks of Yorkshire,
who’d rather feather their nest eggs than even see those around them too hungry to even ask for handout,
not here in Harrogate.
Still a queer odd strange Dickensian nightmare.

Howl for Harrogate by Jem Henderson

Cenotaph, Summer of 1995 by Becky Cherriman

The air effervesced with gossip and Newcastle Brown,
you were lying across me,
your head in the childless give of my tummy:
my hands were entangled in your braids, hash-numbed.
In those days it was possible to surrender to the sun
while above us the memorial loomed, tall and glittering,
grey-white as Edwardian dresses worn by ladies drinking Taylors,
as Harrogate skin, as the bones of those it remembers.

Cenotaph, Summer of 1995 by Becky Cherriman