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Manchester digital art campaign aims to challenge homelessness stigma

A digital art campaign aimed at raising awareness of homelessness and  breaking the surrounding stigma is on display around Manchester city centre.

It’s designed by local artist John Hewitt in collaboration with Invisible Cities, a social enterprise which helps the homeless.

The images are inspired by poetry from people who have experienced homelessness and who now work for Invisible Cities.

The enterprise was founded by Zakia Moulaoui Guery and operates in six cities across the country.

She explains why the campaign is important: “We wanted to focus on building bridges between word and image, and we wanted to do so by using the city as a gallery space.

“What better way to address something invisible than making it visible for all to see? 

Ms Guery’s career has taken her to many different countries, where she worked with people who were sleeping rough, or had been at some point in their lives.

“There were a lot of people from different countries who were homeless, and a lot of other people were saying ‘we don’t want them here.’

“That’s when I realised there is a misjudgement of homeless people, and it made me think about challenging that,” she said.

Ms Guery wanted to hear stories of those who had lived on the streets and help them discover their talents.

She set up walking tours in Edinburgh, where she is based, after being involved in a similar scheme in Athens where someone who has experienced homelessness can become a tour guide.

The tours in Manchester, York and Edinburgh are now running as a virtual self-guided trail due to COVID restrictions and can be booked here.

MM spoke to Invisible Cities tour guide and poet, Danny Collins.

Main photo credit: Noemie Farcy

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