Homeless: the human cost of austerity

This November, ROAD Studios will host an art exhibition curated by Public Health Institute Senior Researcher, Amanda Marie Atkinson. Entitled ‘Homeless: the human cost of austerity’ it aims to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Liverpool, and beyond, in the context of austerity as an ideological choice, with human consequences.

The show is timely in light of recent figures showing that all forms of homelessness in the UK have risen, including rough sleeping, the most visible form of homelessness. It is vital that these figures are understood in the context of the Tory austerity programme. Reform/cuts to housing benefit and the squeezing of local authority budgets, the shortage of housing and the expansion of the private landlord sector with unaffordable rent prices, funding cuts to homelessness, mental health and substance use services, and a reduction in the number of hostel/shelter places, have all played major contributing roles to these rising figures. Such figures are just the tip of the iceberg, and have been predicted to rise in light of further austerity measures.

Homelessness is the human cost of austerity yet research shows that a large proportion of the British public hold misconceptions on the issue of homelessness, with many believing that people who are homeless and living on the streets are there by choice. This could not be further from the truth. Homelessness is the result of a range of structural barriers and life events which occur outside the control of the individuals. It is an outright form of social exclusion and inequality, making those who are affected invisible, ignored and often forgotten.

Compared to the national average, Liverpool has high levels of homelessness. Whilst private developers and landlords move in, buildings stand empty and the budgets of local authority services continue to be squeezed, many continue to live in harsh conditions on the streets and in the city’s hostels/shelters. The show recognises the great work done by various local voluntary organisations that exist to help meet the most basic needs of those affected by homelessness in the city. Such support is much needed in the context of a recent Government report which highlighted a lack of adequate local authority support for the homeless nationwide.

Ten artists/contributors from a number of disciplines (photography, research, illustration, installation, sculpture, poetry and performance) will display art works addressing different dimensions of homelessness, yet together highlight homelessness as a political issue.

Contributors include Public Health Institute Senior Researcher Amanda Marie Atkinson who will present a number of pieces commenting on women as a particular vulnerable group for homelessness, underpinned by UK research and her experiences of volunteering as part of the Real Love Street Team. Researcher Kim Ross-Houle and colleagues will also present photographs taken by homeless people in relation to their experiences and what they feel is significant to them. These photographs were taken as part of a wider ARUK funded research project that considered the relationships between alcohol consumption, significant life events and housing/homelessness. The wider research team includes Dr Lorna Porcellato, Dr Hannah Timpson, Ellie McCoy, Andrew Bradbury and Collette Venturas.

This is a free admissions event, with all donations going to the Real Love Street Team, Care for the Paw and The Homeless Period, local voluntary organisations who provide support and provisions to people who are homeless in Liverpool. The gallery will also be used as a base for street team work during this period, providing an opportunity for people who are homeless to view the work, get a hot meal and provisions to help them during the harsh winter months.


Opening: Friday 18 November 6pm-late

Open Saturday 19 – Sunday 27 November

Weekdays by appointment. To book call/text 07940994808.

Free admission. Donations welcomed.