Manchester’s homeless share their experience of the pandemic through poetry, art and song

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

Whisper To Me Alone is giving homeless people across Greater Manchester the chance to tell their Coronavirus story through the arts.

The inspiring project was conceived by arthur+martha, an organisation which uses experimental writing and art to help self-expression and works with communities who are often marginalised, including homeless people and those living with dementia. The team launched the first ever Homeless Library at The Houses of Parliament and the Southbank in 2015.

Poet Phil Davenport and songwriter Matt Hill have been working with homeless and vulnerable people since 20 May, to create moving poems and songs, over the course of many phone calls. The songs include recordings, impromptu performances and snatched conversations.

The work is being tweeted daily over the course of four months on the @whisper2mealone account.

In charge of organising the feed is University of Salford student Nathan Williams. Nathan, who is studying an MA in Creative Writing, felt homelessness was a subject close to his heart so was glad to be involved in the project.

“Homeless people can often be an overlooked section of society,” said Nathan. “The pandemic hit those living on the streets really hard – this project is here to give them a voice.”

The result is a thought-provoking collection of journals of writing, art and song lyrics.

Nathan added: “For many, art is a form of escapism. That’s why we often find homeless people are really engaged with music and poetry, for instance.

“The pandemic and increased use of food banks has shone a light on the more vulnerable amongst us. We need to make sure those people have a platform.”

Whisper To Me Alone received emergency funding from Arts Council England, in response to the Covid-19 lockdown. The project is in partnership with homeless refuge The Booth Centre and Back on Track, a Manchester-based charity that enables disadvantaged adults to make lasting, positive changes in their lives.

Plans are in place to have the work displayed at Bury Art Gallery in the near future.

You can support the project by following @whisper2mealone on Twitter.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.