For far too long homelessness has been seen as someone else’s problem. But on any given night, tens of thousands of families and individuals experience the worst forms of homelessness across Great Britain, this includes over 200,000 households in England alone.
With the cost of living crisis squeezing all but the top earners, the problem is unlikely to go away any time soon, with new research revealing that the situation is actually worsening.
In fact, it is predicted that 300,000 households could be forced into homelessness next year, with sleeping on the streets, sofa surfing and living in temporary accommodation becoming more prevalent. And, of course, the festive season brings the issue into even sharper focus.
Enter a new campaign from homelessness charity Crisis, devised by Adam & Eve DDB, that aims to make the problem ‘impossible to ignore’ this winter.
Based on the insight that the more homeless people we see, the less we really see them, this behaviour reinforces an all too common reaction as people choose to walk past and ignore the devastating impact of homelessness because it is too uncomfortable to confront.
To tackle this, Crisis set out to make people confront and care about the issue by creating a towering, hyper-realistic sculpture of a person experiencing homelessness. Initially unveiled at London’s Kings Cross station, the sculpture has now been transferred to the Birmingham Bullring, where it will remain until December 12.
The 4.3-metre-tall sculpture, created by hyper realism artist Sophie de Oliveria Barata working with Creative Giants, is designed to stand as a visible testament to the hundreds of thousands of people currently experiencing the most acute kinds of homelessness.
The sculpture, named Alex, has been created with life-like features – through tools such as AI mapping – using the profiles of 17 people facing homelessness who have been supported by Crisis to reinforce the humanity of people experiencing one of the most brutal forms of homelessness: rough sleeping.
Sitting at 2.5 tonnes and the height of a double-decker bus, the sculpture took 10 weeks to create and is surrounded by QR codes leading visitors towards the website with opportunities to read people’s stories of experiencing homelessness, as well as donate to the charity.
A making-of film has been shot by Dan Boulton, content director at Adam & Eve DDB to capture the process of creating a hyper-real sculpture, and brings the craft and detail to life.
The statue is supported by a 50” film, ‘Impossible to Ignore’, which carries the same message that runs throughout the integrated campaign that will run on TV, VOD, social, digital and OOH, until the end of December. Media planning and buying is handled by The Kite Factory, focusing on AV and digital.
Crisis head of marketing and communications Catherine Ashford said: “Every day at Crisis we are confronted with the impact homelessness has on people’s lives and every day we see that it doesn’t have to be this way. But we know homelessness is an issue people find overwhelming, and while many want to see change, too many of us continue to turn away.
“Now, with rents rising and increasing cost of living pressures pushing more and more people into homelessness, this growing problem must finally be confronted. That’s why we’ve been delighted to work with the agency to ensure that homelessness cannot be ignored any longer.
“We hope that Alex will not only stop people in their tracks and evoke powerful feelings of connection but that it will inspire conversations about homelessness. Because only when each and every one of us engage with this pressing issue, can we make the changes needed to end it for good.”
Adam & Eve DDB executive creative director Mike Sutherland said: “The statistics speak for themselves. Homelessness in the UK is a serious issue that needs urgent attention. We wanted to create something that will stop people in their tracks. Our hope is that Alex will be impossible to ignore and will raise the much-needed attention around homelessness and what we need to do to try and help solve it.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Well, there can be few issues that a more distressing than being homeless. As Crisis is quick to point out, as well as the social causes, such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment, people are forced into homelessness when they leave care or the Armed Forces with no home to go to. Many women experiencing homelessness have escaped a violent or abusive relationship. Many people become homeless because they can no longer afford the rent.
And, for many, life events like a relationship breaking down, losing a job, mental or physical health problems, or substance misuse put people under considerable strain. Being homeless can, in turn, make many of these problems even harder to resolve.
Quite why in 21st Century Britain it is still down to the charitable sector to provide the safety net, no-one can explain, with successive governments failing to act.
Of course, the issue is complex but that is no excuse. In the meantime, anything that highlights the plight of homeless people has got to be a good thing. After all, one day it could be you or someone you know…
Decision Marketing Adometer: A “what are you waiting for” 9 out of 10