Charity of the month – April

For Charity of the month this April I would like to introduce you to an amazing charity based in Birmingham that works with homeless and vulnerable adults. Sifa Fireside work tierlessly to enable their service users to improve their lives. Running a wide range of projects that all are welcome to participate in, from a catering social enterprise, to more basic day-to-day support.

Please keep your eyes open for more information on the work they do over the coming month.


A poiniant message from Crisis


“Following the breakdown of his long-term relationship, Sacha was forced to leave his home. He went to his local council for help but they turned him away. He wasn’t a priority.

Sacha spent five weeks sleeping rough.

Right now the Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, is writing a paper on how this Government plans to prevent homelessness. You can make a difference to what goes in it – but you need to act quickly.

To make a real difference to people’s lives sign the petition and have your say. The way in which people in suffering a treated in this country needs to change. Many are not given the opportunities to change their lives for the better. A change to the law surrounding homeless single people – helping the find a roof to put over their heads without having to sleep round on the streets is surely a good thing. It is shocking that singal people are still ending up on the streets because the law does not protect them enough. It shouldn’t be like this. Please make a difference today!

Moral exclusion – is there such a thing?

Recently I have become increasingly aware of the ‘Moral exclusion’ that some people receive. I find it heart breaking. Namely the homeless – as we are all aware are excluded from society due to the life they are forced or have chosen to lead. However over the  few days I have noticed an increasing number of people, that are deemed to be worthy of our society – whether that be due to money, the way the dress, or the way the hold them selves – not only ignoring these human beings that are seen by the majority as not worthy but treating them with less respect than they would an animal.

This morning on my way into work. A man who was less well dressed than the majority of the commuters boarded the train. As soon as he stepped into the carriage most turned their heads away – embarrassed perhaps of their views or maybe because they felt threatened. The individual that angered me the most was a man wearing a Blue Jumper and carrying a look of ‘Mr Incredible’. This man jumped out his seat and decided to stand as soon as the other ‘less worthy’ man sat on the bank of chairs opposite him. Why I ask can we not treat others as we wish to be treated? One day – and I do not wish this on ‘Mr Incredible’, or any other person – we may be faced with the same life struggles as the ‘less worthy’ passenger.

It is not a big ask, just treat people as if they are human beings, we are all the same species and should be respected and treated as such. Please think of others on this gloriously sunny day!!

Giving a second chance.

The U-turn womens project – this month’s Charity of the Month – plays a vital role in the empowerment of women. many of the women that come to U-turn have suffered abuse from an early age. This is most cases has left a void not only emotionally but within their education. The U-turn project offers many programmes aimed to close this void, such as the second chance programme.

This programme makes a real difference to the lives of the women that the project works with. Giving them the opportunity to gain qualifications that may have passed them by,. Through this programme the women are not only gaining new skills and qualifications but an encouraging boost of self esteem – both of whcih will help towards future employment opportunities and generally a happier and more fulfilled lifestyle.

This programme was made possible by working in partnership with Raines Secondary School who continues to support this project with guidance given in the planning and preparation of all the material.

The Crisis Commision @ Somerset House

The Crisis Commision is an exhibition combining the works of celebrated artists with the works of the artistic homeless. I have been interested in the power of art to help those socially neglected for some time and the prospect of the Crisis Commsion exhibition has been exciting me since its announcemnet in January of this year.

For those of you who are unaware, Crisis is an organisation that aim to not only help the homeless through practical day to day intervention but work tirelessly to change our social infrastructure in order to eradicate homelessness as we know it forever. The great work of Crisis ranges from highlighting the issues of the homeless in the palace of Westminster (working to implement new policies and or to amend existing ones.

The exhibition currently on display at Somerset House, celebrates the talents of Homeless artists (Skylight artists), some of whom I have had the very great pleasure of working with in the past (The Going Places Project).  All the work within the exhibition is for sale – an auction of works by the prominent artists involved taking place at Christies, the work of the very talented Skylight artists will be auctioned throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Artists included in the exhibition include, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Sir Anthony Caro, Yinka Shonibare, Gillian Wearing, Jonathan Yeo, Bob & Roberta Smith, Nathan Coley and Nika Neelova.  As well as the very talented William James West (Bill, Birmingham), Thomas Herald, and Conleth Moran all Skylight Artists that I would like to give special congratulatory recognition to (other Skylight artists were involved in the exhibition from across the UK).

The Crisis Commission will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience major works from our greatest contemporary artists reacting to an issue that is sadly becoming ever more prominent in today’s society – homelessness. It is hugely exciting that artists of this calibre are right now making original works that will reflect on the exhibition’s themes of isolation, property, security and space. I can’t wait to install them in Somerset House for all to enjoy, but also to provoke thought on what it is like not to have a home.

– Laurence Sillars, Curator of the Crisis Commission and Chief Curator at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (Somerset House/ Crisis Commission).