Coventry school children paint a brighter future for homeless people

Yonis Ali (17), Lisa White (WM Housing), Martin Malone (Arts Space), Manoj Janjuha (17), Ruta Taskinaite (17), Cllr Jim O'Boyle.


Thursday, 25 September 2014 

School children in Coventry have helped visualise a brighter future for the homeless by designing artwork to decorate a new support facility.

Students from Sidney Stringer Academy and St Mary and St Benedict RC Primary School designed artwork to brighten up the hoardings surrounding Gateway, a state-of-the-art centre in Hillfields which will provide accommodation and support for local homeless people.

The hoardings around the building, being developed by Whitefriars Housing and Wates Living Space, have been covered in artwork intended to illustrate the role Gateway will play in helping people find a brighter future. The final design depicts a cityscape which progresses from a subdued setting, representing the hardship of homelessness, through to a brighter scene of positivity and hope.

The images were designed during creative sessions hosted by local charity, Coventry Artspace. Before putting pen to paper, artists Vicky Ram, Martin Malone and Frieda van de Poll encouraged students to engage in discussions about homelessness and think about what the concept of ‘home’ meant to them.

Frieda van de Poll, who spent time with students at St Mary and St Benedict RC Primary School, said: “It was really important that the young people understood the issue of homelessness. We were really impressed by how well they engaged with the project, and the understanding and empathy they showed towards the topic.

“The quality of the students’ work was excellent and we made sure to include elements of everyone’s drawings in the final piece. It’s a great way for the young people to feel involved in initiatives affecting their community and showcases how they have made a positive contribution to the project.”

As well as students from the two schools, children at Hillfields Children’s Centre also got involved by painting pictures that were used to decorate the final design.

Nick Edge, Development Project Manager at WM Housing Group, of which Whitefriars is a member, said: “This project has really helped to raise awareness of Gateway and the issues it will tackle, especially among the young people involved. 

“I’m delighted with the work that the children have produced. It will really brighten up the hoardings for the final stage of construction and helps to visually depict the goals and purposes of the project. We’re planning on framing some pieces to put up in the building once it’s completed.

“We’re committed to engaging the community of Hillfields during the development and following the completion of Gateway. The young people’s willingness to be involved and the inspiring artwork they created has given the project a real boost.”

Once complete, Gateway will provide 61 studios and two one-bedroom apartments. As well as being a safe place to stay, the building will offer support and training for residents to help them out of the cycle of homelessness and address the underlying issues for their accommodation needs.

Gateway has been part-funded by a £2.1million grant from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency and is due to be completed in Spring 2015.

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