Jongleurs & Troubadours #1 – Homelessness

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Homelessness is no laughing matter… Pictured: Sad Jester (puppet), by Emellena (Source: flickrhivemind.net)

The Story: Homelessness

I believe in my outrage knowing that people are living in boxes on the street. – Bertrand Russell

Homelessness statistics are a confusing, murky thing, with puzzling inconsistencies in the way homelessness relief and homelessness prevention are recorded by English local authorities – although Wales is, apparently, having some success in finding a better, clearer way of recording this data, following new legislation included in the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

Whatever data methodology is used, however, it is difficult to live in a major city in the UK and not see that homelessness is a very real, very present (as opposed to past, i.e. historical) problem. Much like people who are currently homeless, the issue of homelessness is often overlooked by individuals and society alike; it is an uncomfortable subject, raising questions of care, dignity, wealth inequality, a lack of (social) housing, and who is to ‘blame’.

The world of the performance arts has never shied away from difficult topics, though. In this debut edition of Jongleurs & Troubadours I’m spotlighting a couple of films – and one film-related interest – that look at the subject so many seek to march quickly by.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, by Jonathan Pie

Hang on a minute, did I not just say that homelessness services have been halved…and yet homelessness has been doubled? The funding’s halved and the problem’s doubled. It’s almost like those two statistics are related somehow, isn’t it?

Jonathan Pie is a fictitious British news reporter – the satirical character creation of comedian Tom Walker – who, as Wikipedia succinctly states: “does not so much report the news as rant about the state of politics in the UK.” This particular tirade, entitled Happy Christmas, drags the torrid state of homelessness in the UK, along with the equally ugly, arrogant entitlement so many feel about those who are currently homeless, into the stark light of angry, honest observation.

You can watch more of Jonathan Pie on his YouTube channel.

BUBBLE DWELLERS, by G7 Productions

As gentle yin to the last video’s raging yang, but no less thought-provoking for it, is a short film from G7 Productions. Directed by Sunil Goswami, Bubble Dwellers explores issues of compassion, community, and human connection. Told without dialogue, there is no grandstanding or fanfare: just questions of kindness, and a request that we – as individuals, as a sector, and as a society – look beyond our immediate ‘bubble’.

You can watch more films from G7 Productions on their YouTube channel.

REEL HOMES, from Inside Housing

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Pictured: the Reel Homes competition logo.

The Reel Homes film competition is looking for new, up-and-coming film-makers to produce a short-film about homelessness or the housing crisis.

If you have been moved / inspired / angered, etc. by the subject of homelessness (or, more generally, the housing crisis) and want to create your own (short) film addressing the subject, you may be interested in Inside Housing’s Reel Homes competition. Both marking the anniversary of Cathy Come Home and looking to the future, Reel Homes is asking aspiring film-makers to submit a short synopsis and test footage for an original film about homelessness and the housing crisis, with the winning entrant not only receiving a cash prize but also funding – and subsequent promotion / public showings – to make that film idea a reality.

Entry to Reel Homes closes on January 31st 2017. You can find out more about the competition here.

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And that concludes issue one of Jongleurs & Troubadours. I hoped you liked this new blog feature. If you have any thoughts, critiques, ideas for future issues, etc. please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below. If you prefer to keep your commentary to 140 characters or less, you can also find me on Twitter.

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Neil Jackson, also known by his stage name of Neil Jacks, is an award-winning actor, writer, director, and fight choreographer represented by Inspired Actors. He is also a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIHCM) and a dedicated martial artist, with over a decade of training, coaching, and competitive fighting experience.

You can find out more about Neil – both as an actor and as a freelance housing professional – on the About: The Author page.

References & Footnotes

In order of appearance:

The Mystery of the Missing Data, Patricia Arthurs (Inside Housing), Online: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/analysis-and-data/the-mystery-of-the-missing-data/7017992.article, Available: January 2017

Happy Christmas, Jonathan Pie, Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIRht6O7sCQ, Available: January 2017

Jonathan Pie YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/tomwalker78

Bubble Dwellers, G7 Productions, Online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybVulmyY5Jo, Available: January 2017

G7 Productions YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc7vDv6K4XBl-TPhp3q8-Kg

Cathy Come Home, Wikipedia, Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathy_Come_Home, Available: January 2017

Reel Homes, Inside Housing, Online: http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/reel-homes/7017728.article, Available: January 2017

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