Manchester Street Poem started as a project in 2016, when Karl Hyde from the band Underworld, along with representatives from Manchester International Festival (MIF), approached members of Manchester Homelessness Partnership’s Arts & Heritage group. The group had a rich history of arts and homelessness work in our city, and of collaborative projects between the cultural and charitable sectors.
A working group was formed to help find solutions to the dehumanizing of fellow citizens living on the streets who are ‘blanked out’ and walked past. We believe that through the sharing of personal stories connections and bonds are built in our society that counteract the long-term destructive effects of being ignored – “no us and them – only us”. Together we coproduced the process of collecting the stories that would populate our very first installation at MIF17. We created a community in which people feel safe to share their stories.
Since then we have opened up to everyone as we witness the benefits of our work throughout society. Our methodology is co-production, collaboration and participation: bringing disparate people together as equal contributors and finding common paths to creative expression.
Our strength lies in our diversity: among the group is a vast resource of lived and professional experience of homelessness in the city: artists; employees and volunteers from various charities addressing homelessness and inequality; and workers from cultural and civic organisations. Working together outside of structural roles, we continually shape one another’s understanding and practice and ensures that everything we embark on we do with integrity and a duty of care to contributors.