Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford homeless art show aims to 'stop the stigma'

Painting by Adam Image copyright Adam
Image caption This painting by Adam was inspired by a Banksy work called Keep Your Coins, I Want Change

An art exhibition showcasing work by homeless people has been created to "challenge negative stereotypes".

The pop-up event in Bedford includes more than 12 paintings by former rough sleeper Adam, who uses art to "keep him busy" and help beat his alcoholism.

The artist, who paints as a hobby, said: "This is to prove that people on the streets aren't a waste of space.

"We have a place in society and we can do some things better than most people. Stop the stigma."

Image copyright Lloyd
Image caption Emotional Explosion by Lloyd from YMCA Bedfordshire

The full exhibition features sculpture, paintings and written word by homeless people who use the services of YMCA Bedfordshire, Emmaus Village Carlton, Bedford Women's Refuge and the King's Arms Project.

Adam, 45, who did not wish to use his full name, is staying at a hostel in Bedford and volunteers at the Community Led Initiatives charity which offers art therapy.

He hopes his unpaid work will lead to paid employment next year.

"I don't want to make money through my art, but use it to help others," he said.

Image copyright Daniel
Image caption Tree of Life by Daniel from YMCA Bedfordshire
Image copyright Daniel
Image caption Closing Doors by Daniel

He said he had been homeless for about 20 years, which included time sleeping rough, but said he was now "doing good".

"People's attitudes to homeless people need to change, we need to create building blocks, we need to see them as a person," he said.

"Give homeless people respect, because you are only one paycheque away from being homeless."

Image copyright Bedford Women’s Refuge
Image caption I Have A Dream is a collaborative piece by the residents of Butterfly House, the Bedford Women’s Refuge

Sam Price, a homeless inter-agency officer who organised the event, said: "Art can be really therapeutic and for people who have suffered trauma, it can have a hugely positive impact on their wellbeing and mental health.

"This exhibition is all about challenging the negative stereotypes and empowering those affected by homelessness."

It runs 26 November-2 December at the Riverside Square Pavilion.

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