Funding Success Stories (Westminster): This Stuff Matters

Innovation Fund Feedback from our friends at Museum of Homelessness

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Museum of Homelessness (MoH) was awarded the Innovation Fund to run a social space where volunteers with an interest in housing and homelessness heritage can talk about the issues, try something new and learn things.

The workshops:

MoH delivered four workshops in April and May for the project in partnership with the Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields (CSTM). The purpose of the workshops was to create a cohesive social space, provide opportunities for participants to learn about the history of the homeless community and most importantly, co-create and present items sourced from their archive and collection for a display in the Crypt space in the St Martin’s Parish Church.

In total 18 people took part in the process of creating the exhibition, with ten of those people being clients of CSTM. The sessions were devised by Chloe Osborne, a freelance facilitator and artist that MoH work closely with.

Exhibition:

Working together, the group created a display comprising 13 items from MoH’s archive to share with the public. These included placards, campaigning material, photography and archival records from the past as well as today.

Rather than a typical exhibition or a timeline of homelessness history, Labels and documentary evidence were presented within the show written from a ‘lived experience’ perspective. A series of colour coded journeys enabled visitors to navigate the display with a question written from a homeless person’s perspective.

The exhibition opened on 20th June and will close on 2nd September.

Drop-in sessions:

Since the exhibition opened, MoH reported that they have held a number of activities for people including an opening reception for people who created the show, a gathering to discuss how the project went as well as weekly drop-ins that have offered opportunities for participants to stay in touch with the museum team and meet members of the public.

The project will end on 3rd September when the show is de-installed.

MoH informed us that feedback from participants has been very positive with comments complimenting the sense of togetherness, the diversity in the group and strong encouragement to build on the work to-date.

MoH stated that they have also been able to reach a lot more visitors than originally anticipated as the project originally was expected to culminate after a one day event. Instead, MoH were offered access the Crypt at St Martin’s to stage a long running exhibition; a really positive outcome that has meant they could reach a lot more people.

In total 10 people who regularly use the day centre engaged with the project (defined here as attending more than one session), participants have reported that they enjoyed activities; felt empowered by them and found it to be highly educational.

MoH said that the project has helped create new institutional connections between the church and the day centre; they also received very positive feedback from CSTM staff and the church congregation in relation to hosting the show (shown below):

“I know from speaking to visitors that the opportunity to respond and give feedback via the notes was particularly welcomed. I am aware that members of our congregation were particularly pleased to see the show and to continue to build the relationship between the church and the day centre.” (Feedback from the church)

“It has expanded our creative arts project to include new partner organisations as well as clients from other projects.  We were able to bring the work out of the art room and include new people in the project that would otherwise not engage in something like this. We have benefitted also from a high quality exhibition installed in the Church Crypt.  This has further developed our good relationship with the church which in turn helps to build trust in further projects.”  (Feedback from the Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields)

MoH informed us that they are continuing to work with some people in the group, and have provided ongoing opportunities for four people to continue to connect with us as the exhibition has been open. One further member of the group has attended most of the drop-ins and has become an active member of MoH community who they are now working very closely with. They recently funded him to travel with the MoH community to travel with them to a conference in Lincoln and he has also been conducting tours of the exhibition with visitors.

MoH fed back that The project has enabled us to stage our largest and most well attended exhibition to date. We are currently working on a future fundraising bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to continue to further develop our work. We will also continue to work with the Connection at St Martin’s on other projects in the future including the Dying Homeless Project, an ongoing investigation and online record of people who died whilst homeless since October 2017 (We have inherited this project from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism)”.

 

 

 

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