‘Creativity’ might not be what you associate with a homeless charity, but St. George’s Crypt in Leeds is different in many ways. It was originally opened in 1930 when coffins were cleared from the crypt to provide shelter for the destitute. Their work continues today, supporting around 100 ‘clients’ on a daily basis, providing food and accommodation, practical advice and training.
The Crypt ran creative workshops with the actor Steve Huison (Coronation Street/ The Full Monty), and the writer Ian Clayton to capture the clients’ experiences. Story-telling sessions, creative-writing exercises, drama and song became an outlet for expression, with clients sharing personal details about their lives and current situations.
It was clear that they had all been let down in some way; by their families or friends, by the education, health or social services. This had sent many on a destructive and chaotic journey into alcohol and drug abuse, mental health problems or imprisonment.
Some are understandably angry at the world, but more have hope; hope that their lives won’t always be like this. They all share great empathy having experienced many similar situations. This binds them together like an extended family.
The creative sessions gave them a forum for discussion, and above all, a chance to be listened to.
Tags: Photo journalism