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Shining a light on 'Hidden Homelessness'

Young people in Cumbria have collaborated with local poet, M Whatley, to create an

awareness raising video highlighting the problem of hidden homelessness.

‘NO FIXED ADDRESS’ is a new ‘visual poem’ created by teenagers from Barrow-in-Furness and will be launched for a public premiere on Thur 23rd May 2019, to raise awareness of hidden homelessness across Cumbria.

The emotive three-minute film uses a variety of media - from green screen live action to stop-motion animation techniques like 2D cell & 3D claymation - to illustrate a spoken word poem written by local poet Matthew Whatley who goes under the alias M Whatley. It tells the story of a young man on a zero hours contract who is forced to live on various friend’s sofas because he lacks the steady income to afford secure accommodation.

A group of 16-19-year-olds came together to write, produce and act in the short as part of a project led by Signal Film and Media working with young people’s homelessness charity Depaul UK. Launching today, ‘NO FIXED ADDRESS’ hopes to both raise awareness of this ‘sofa-surfing’ hidden homelessness issue and provide information to support anyone needing to access the services available.

The young people were inspired to make the film after hearing a talk by local charity Nightstop Cumbria, a Depaul UK service providing emergency accommodation for young people in need, in the homes of volunteer hosts.

Participant Olly said: “Before coming to these workshops I had no experience with film in general - and this course gave me that - getting hands-on with cameras, learning different techniques and why to do stuff. Sofa Surfing really is a thing - it’s quite alarming to me - the volume of that situation. But the shoot was really fun - working with good people, replicating film set roles. I like the responsibility of it all and working with different kinds of people. It widens my scope.”

Project Manager Julia Parks, said: “Nightstop Cumbria came in to talk to us about hidden homelessness and explained that many young people end up staying with friends or family in unsafe and uncomfortable situations, rather than sleep rough. But although these young people have a roof over their heads, they’re still homeless. They don’t have a safe, permanent place to stay.”

Poet M Whatley said:

"Highlighting the issue of hidden homelessness is essential; not just locally, but nationally and globally. Working with young people on topics such as hidden homelessness helps to highlight that the problem not only exists but that it's ok to ask for help. Creatively, the Get Digital team had an endless stream of amazing interpretations and ambitions for the poem that they themselves put into action, filmed, drew or sculpted. They've produced some remarkable visuals for a piece that can now be used to reach a similar audience. Poetry can be seen as a bit of a stuffy or pretentious art form, but if you stay true to your message and are sincere in your pursuit you can connect with anyone”

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