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From struggles to strength: new exhibition illuminates the challenges of homelessness, poverty, and addiction

Unseen Voices is an empowering exhibition in Greater Manchester that brings together individuals who have experienced hardships like homelessness, poverty, and addiction.

A transformative exhibition in Greater Manchester brings together individuals who have conquered adversity to share their empowering narratives.

The Unseen Voices Exhibition

In a heartwarming display of unity and support, the Unseen Voices exhibition in Manchester showcased the powerful stories of 12 individuals who have faced daunting challenges like homelessness, poverty, and addiction.

The exhibition, the result of a year’s collaboration between the Changing Futures team at Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the not-for-profit video production company BADKAMRA, aimed to shed light on the difficulties faced by marginalised communities navigating the city’s services.

The Unseen Voices participants, hailing from various backgrounds, bravely recounted their experiences through spoken word, poetry, film, and other art forms. Their honest and moving accounts shed light on the reality of life for those facing multiple disadvantages and the resilience they displayed in overcoming hurdles.

Ushiku Crisafulli

Ushiku Crisafulli, a 34-year-old participant from Tameside, shared his poignant experience of homelessness, navigating the benefits system, and his struggles to find employment in his beloved theatre industry. His powerful poetry touched the hearts of all who attended the exhibition.

“I was happy to lend my voice to this effort,” Ushiku expressed, emphasising the importance of sharing lived experiences to create meaningful change.

He continued: “The experience of late-teenage homelessness and the benefits system has been a far bigger impediment to social mobility than what job my dad had at 14.

“Yet the metrics used to analyse multiple disadvantages often aren’t fit for purpose.“Our lived experiences tell this story far better than spreadsheets ever could, and I was happy to lend my voice to this effort.”

The Unseen Voices project was not just a documentation of hardships; it was an endeavour to inspire and support others going through challenging times.

The creators aimed to reach influential figures in positions of power, urging them to bring about essential improvements in services and systems to uplift marginalised communities.

Paul Hanson

Paul Hanson, from BADKAMRA, shared his delight in witnessing the participants’ creative approach in tackling their struggles.

“Creativity in its purest form is the ability to change something, create something. They are a creative bunch with something to say. I feel very fortunate to have met everyone involved,” Paul said.

“This project was participatory and collaborative in nature which was refreshing, more often than not, the interests and political interests of participants and least empowered can go unmet.

“The group learnt the basic skills of video production including camera operating, lighting, sound, editing and interviewing. We held workshops which provided opportunities for storytelling, meaning-making, self-expression, self-reflection, self and community awareness and as a catalyst for sharing experiences.

“Many of the participants struggles and experiences are heartbreaking, however creativity seemed to be how those struggles had been met.

“They are a creative bunch with something to say. I feel very fortunate to have met everyone involved.”

The Changing Futures program, funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DHLUC) and the National Lottery Community Fund, played a vital role in the exhibition’s success.

Operating across 15 areas, the program aimed to create systemic changes that better support individuals facing multiple disadvantages.

The involvement of individuals who have experienced these hardships at every level, from frontline staff to creative research projects like Unseen Voices, was a key pillar of the program’s approach. This emphasis on first-hand experiences allowed the project to genuinely capture the essence of the challenges faced and the potential solutions to address them.

Deputy Mayor Paul Dennett

Deputy Mayor Paul Dennett, the GMCA lead for Healthy Lives and Homelessness, expressed his commitment to making Greater Manchester a place where everyone has equal access to essential services. He acknowledged the barriers still faced by some communities in the region and highlighted the significance of Unseen Voices in providing a voice to those who are often overlooked.

As the Unseen Voices exhibition drew to a close, the impact it left on attendees was undeniable.

Visitors left with a newfound sense of awareness, compassion, and determination to support and uplift those facing hardships in their communities.

The Unseen Voices Exhibition at HOME, Manchester’s city centre, has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of its audience.

It stands as a beacon of hope, inspiring positive change, and empowering individuals to create a more inclusive and compassionate society for all.

For more information and updates on future exhibitions and projects, visit the Greater Manchester Combined Authority website by clicking here.

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