A Memorial to Cambridge's Homeless
Remembering those from the homeless community that have died over the last twenty years.
Remembering that Homeless are Human. Breaking down boundaries and bringing communities together to say:
No-one Should Have to Sleep on the Street.
In 2015, whilst working at Jimmy's I saw a list of over 200 names on a piece of paper - people that had lived on the streets, been through Jimmy's, and had since passed away. Some of these these people died on the street, some had come through homelessness. Many, many were too young. I decided to create a memorial, using blankets to reflect the absolute very basics that some people don't have, to show warmth and to work with material in a very homely and traditional way.
As well as working at Jimmy's, I used social media and local press and TV to gather contributions from Jimmy's guests, staff and volunteers, and over 120 people from the wider community .Some people made commemorative pieces for family members and friends, others researched the lives of the person they were paying tribute to, some we knew very little about - but each of the panels was made with care, reflexion and respect. I organised sessions on the common next to the shelter, where guests at Jimmys and housed residents created and chatted together.
'I decided to portray John as a young man, dreaming of good things and better luck...'.
People are continuing to die on our streets and in inadequate housing.
Seven people died on the streets in Cambridge in the few months that we were working on this.
So many people working on this memorial reflects the belief that we - as a society - all have a responsibility. And that we want to work towards change. The memorial continues to be displayed to both commemorate those we have lost and to provoke discussion about working together to bring about change.
Many thanks to Toby Peters, Jane Heeney and everyone who contributed.
Toby Peter's film 'Remembering Cambridge's Homeless', documenting the memorial, can be seen here.