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Project aiding homeless receives £1.4m research grant

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A homeless person on the street
The three-year project aims to better connect the care system and add creative health approaches such as arts and sports to it. | Photo: Jon Tyson

Researchers working to transform the infrastructure of support available for people experiencing homelessness have been awarded £1.4m from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The three-year project, led by Northumbria University, aims to better connect the care system and expand it to include creative health approaches such as art, crafts, sports, gardening or cooking to provide holistic support tailored to individuals.

At present, support services are not always integrated and often try to address in isolation the issues which can contribute to homelessness – such as abuse, trauma, addiction and mental or physical health challenges.

But in reality, these complex and varied health and social care needs can rarely be treated in isolation, explained Professor Monique Lhussier, one of the lead investigators of the research from Northumbria.

“When available, support for homeless people is often only for a short time, not coordinated with other services and fails to meet all of a person’s needs,” said Professor Lhussier, a social scientist with expertise in marginalisation, welfare and wellbeing.

Fellow lead investigator Dr Christina Cooper, from Northumbria’s Department of Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing, said: “While most services see people who are homeless as having lots of needs, few also see them as people with strengths, talents, resilience, and aspirations. Despite evidence showing the positive impact of creative initiatives, these assets have not typically been considered a core part of support services.”

The project aims to grow the care system, so it includes creative health approaches, with the research informed and guided by people recruited as experts by experience.

“This is about working in direct and equal collaboration with people who have experienced homelessness so that all people can have access to the support they need, when they need it, and in the way they need it,” added Professor Lhussier.

“What we want all support services to be working collectively on is enabling that growth for each individual. To be thinking about people in terms of their future potential rather than as a list of problems that can’t be figured out.”

Driven by six key organisations – Tyne HousingGroundswellAlphabetti TheatreArt GeneChilli Studios and Helix Arts – a network of housing providers, arts organisations and healthcare services from across the North East and Cumbria will participate in the project. The research will also be supported by two regional community interest companies, Media Savvy and Roots and Wings design, making the project highly collaborative and grounded within the kinds of organisations it aims to engage.

The aim is to develop a model which supports the move from siloed working and crisis management to collaborative partnerships for early intervention and prevention. This will inform the development of an evidence-based regional policy for homelessness and a website featuring details of all support services available in one place.

Dr Cooper added: “Bringing together organisations from creative industries and the wider homelessness sector is important because it offers people who need it opportunities to be part of something which supports them to grow, and to reintegrate into society in a positive way. And to shed some of the very negative labels which are often placed on them through no fault of their own.”

Artistic and Executive Director at Alphabetti Theatre, Ali Pritchard, is a Northumbria University graduate and founded the theatre, which is now a registered charity, in 2012 with the belief that the arts should be accessible for all.

He said: “Alphabetti Theatre is now an established community hub in the city of Newcastle which is already engaging with diverse audiences. I’m delighted that we can offer further support to people who need it most by being one of the cultural collaborators on this project.

“We’ve never been afraid to do things differently, while championing the development of performing arts in the region, and recognise how lives can be enriched by opportunities to interact with the creative industries.”

Community Engagement Coordinator at Alphabetti Theatre, Audrey Cook, is taking the lead on the theatre’s contribution to the project. They said: “It is an exciting prospect that arts and culture is included as a necessary tool for improving wellbeing and eliminating stigma. Alphabetti Theatre is a dedicated warm space as well as a vibrant hub for local art and culture for absolutely anyone.

“The inclusion to prioritise exposure to art and creativity within this project alone, contributes to the necessary conversation that art shouldn’t be treated as a luxury. I am eager to see what creative outcomes come in the coming years of this project and I’m endlessly grateful to be apart of it. Not just myself, but all of us here at Alphabetti.”

The research, Making every community asset count: improving health and reducing inequalities for people experiencing homelessness, is part of the third phase of projects funded through the Mobilising Community Assets to Tackle Health Inequalities programme. The UKRI programme is led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in collaboration with and the National Centre for Creative Health.

It builds on an earlier award of £250,000 which saw Northumbria academics working with Tyne Housing to create a virtual directory of 192 support services for those facing homelessness across the wider region. Both awards have been obtained in collaboration with Newcastle University, building on a longstanding, collaborative relationship between the two organisations.

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Qatar museum opens exhibition revealing new voices from the Arab world

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Qatar museums opens exhibition revealing new voices from the Arab world
"Take Shelter" is one of the films showing during "Your Ghosts Are Mine, Expanded Cinemas, Amplified Voices" | Photo: still courtesy © LA CHAUVE-SOURIS

Qatar Museum has opened Your Ghosts Are Mine, Expanded Cinemas, Amplified Voices, a major exhibition coinciding with the 60th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale, bringing together works by filmmakers and video artists from the Middle East, Africa and Asia. On view at ACP Palazzo Franchetti (through 24 November), the exhibition presents a journey in moving images through contemporary experiences of community life and memory, transnational crossings and exile.

Your Ghosts Are Mine is produced by Qatar Museums and co-organised by Doha Film Institute, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the future Art Mill Museum in collaboration with ACP Art Capital Partners and with support from Media City Qatar. It is curated by Matthieu Orléan with Majid Al-Remaihi and Virgile Alexandre, with exhibition design by Federico Martelli and Clément Périssé. The advisory committee includes Fatma Hassan Alremaihi, Zeina Arida and Catherine Grenier.

The exhibition explores themes such as deserts, ruins, borders, exile and women’s voices through films supported by Doha Film Institute and video works from Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the future Art Mill Museum.

The works span fiction, documentary, animation and memoir. Included are excerpts from works by over 40 artists including Faouzi Bensaidi (Morocco), Jessica Beshir (Ethiopia), Ali Cherri (Lebanon), Tala Hadid (Morroco), Joana Hadjithomas (Lebanon), Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Soudade Kaadan (Syria), Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (Lesotho), Asmae El Moudir (Morocco), Amal Al-Muftah (Qatar), Shirin Neshat (Iran), Larissa Sansour (Palestine), Abderrhamane Sissako (Mauritania), Elia Suleiman (Palestine), Ramata-Toulaye Sy (Senegal), Tariq Teguia (Algeria), Shaima Al Tamini (Yemen), plus works by Wael Shawky, Lida Abdul, Hassan Khan and Sophia Al Maria.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums and Doha Film Institute, said, “Your Ghosts Are Mine will open the eyes of international viewers to the ideas, feelings, and artistic visions of today’s filmmakers from the Arab world and neighbouring regions. With this exhibition, Qatar Museums advances its mission of encouraging understanding across borders, while Doha Film Institute continues to nurture rising talents of our region.”  

A schedule of film screenings accompanying the exhibition is available here.    

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Thousands of free travel passes available to travel around Europe

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A solo traveler in Europe
Successful applicants will get a free rail pass to travel in Europe for up to 30 days

Starting this summer, thousands of young people will once again travel around Europe by train for free thanks to the latest call of the DiscoverEU programme. Today at 12:00 CET during the European Youth Week buzzing with activities, the Commission launched the latest DiscoverEU application round. It will end on Tuesday 30 April at 12:00 CET.

In total, 35,500 travel passes are available. To get one, young people born between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2006 can do a quiz with five questions about the EU and one additional question on the European Youth Portal. Successful applicants will get a free rail pass to travel in Europe for up to 30 days between 1 July 2024 and 30 September 2025.

The call is open to applicants from the European Union and countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme including Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Türkiye. Ticket holders can plan their own routes or be inspired by existing ones. For example, they can discover a route launched last year, which focuses on cities and places making the European Union ‘beautiful, sustainable and inclusive’ in line with the principles of the New European Bauhaus.

Participants can also benefit from the DiscoverEU Culture Route an initiative of the 2022 European Year of Youth that combines various cultural destinations including architecture, music, fine art, theatre, fashion and design. Participants can visit the European Capitals of Culture which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List,  European Heritage Label sites, or Access City Award label locations, which are cities that have gone above and beyond to become more accessible to everyone.

Participants will also receive a discount card with over 40,000 discount possibilities on public transport, culture, accommodation, food, sports and other services in eligible countries. Additionally, Erasmus+ National Agencies organise pre-departure information meetings, and national agencies across all Erasmus+ countries prepare DiscoverEU Meet-ups, learning programmes lasting from one to three days.

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£50,000 prize to be split between female racers and soccer tournaments

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£50,000 prize fund to be split between female racers and soccer tournaments in the UK
Danielle Udogaranya (Ebonix), Harrie Silver (Harrie) and Shauna Ward (Shauna Games) announce the launch of a series of women’s esports tournaments

A women’s only esports initiative has been announced as the first-of-its-kind in the UK, in a bid to improve diversity and inclusion in the gaming world.

The series of tournaments provide a platform for talented women gamers to showcase their skills. It is the first women’s esports tournament to award professional contracts as well as cash prizes to winners. This follows research that revealed out of all esports pros, only 5% are women despite women making up 47% of all gamers in the UK.

The women’s esports initiative is being brought to life by Sky Broadband in partnership with the Guild Esports company, co-owned by football legend David Beckham. Both Sky Broadband and Guild share the mission to create a more inclusive esports industry.

The initiative is made up of two tournaments: Racers Eseries, a SIM racing-based competition, and the Soccer Eseries, an esports football tournament, culminating in the Women’s Esports Finals. With a total prize pot of £50,000 split between the tournaments, all competitors at the Women’s Esports Finals will receive a cash prize, with the two ultimate winners of the Racers Eseries and Soccer Eseries also awarded a pro contract each and free Sky Broadband for 18 months.

  • Racers Eseries – taking place from the 26th April to 19th May in person and online: SIM racing-based competition – ten gamers will make it through to the Women’s Esports Finals
  • Soccer Eseries – date to be announced later this year: an esports football tournament, the top four gamers will make it through to the Women’s Esports Finals
  • Women’s Esports Finals – date to be announced later this year: The UK’s first-of-its-kind Women’s Esports Final hosted LIVE and streamed from Sky headquarters

As part of the coveted esports pro contracts, winners will receive bootcamp training, access to top-class facilities and experts including nutritionists to help them keep at the top of their game.

Amber Pine, MD, Sky Connectivity said: “At Sky Broadband we’re committed to powering the gaming community, and we want to help ensure it’s an equal playing field for all. We’re creating new, safe and equal opportunities for woman gamers, working with Guild Esports for the past two years to achieve this ambition. This first-of-its-kind initiative opens up new avenues to help women go pro, with contracts and cash prizes up for grabs.”

Despite the growing popularity of esports and large prize funds, research by Bryter revealed over half (56%) of women feel that there is a great lack of women gamers in esports, and similarly 54% agree that the gaming community isn’t doing enough to encourage women gamers.

However, the report also found that 36% of women gamers would consider entering an esports tournament.

Those looking to take part in the tournaments can visit https://www.sky.com/broadband/gaming for more information on how to sign up. Entrants must be 18 or over and UK residents.

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