This journey started many years ago when we first had the idea to make ice sculptures of children to raise awareness of homelessness. The subject of a child and the delicate material that is ice was to highlight the vulnerability of homeless people that is often not appreciated. According to homeless link 72% are challenged by mental illness and 50% have long term physical health issues. Many charities regard the people they are helping as vulnerable adults that need support and compassion as well as a home as many of their difficulties are results of childhood traumas, failed relationships and institutionalization that arise way before being homeless.
The journey became re-energized when Claire Jamieson said at the end of November “Yes, lets do it!” with such enthusiasm that I could see before my eyes the days of relaxing and putting my feet up before Christmas whilst eating mince pies evaporate.
What followed was 7 days in the freezer occasionally accompanied by Tom Bolland, Yadgar Ali and Claire to make the ice children at a nice comfortable temperature of -12 degrees. Toasty warm!
We also liaised with the Leeds charity Simon on the streets and the national charity Shelter who gave us advice and the confidence that what we were doing was both appropriate and sympathetic to the needs of homeless people. It has to be said that the work that homeless charities does is exceptional.
The film maker Bez Burrows then joined us to make a film of the project. He is indeed a very talented film maker and we cannot wait to see it.
The big day came on the 15th of December and we set out at 7am to sit in place, James in Bradford, Simon in York, Tommy in Leeds, and Jeremy in Manchester. By this stage we were totally exhausted and Liverpool seemed a long, long way away as the final ice sculpture Kawa sat in the back of the van. Leeds and Manchester had been particularly heartwarming as so many people had been engaging with the ice sculptures including many homeless people who understood quite clearly the concept. The day had been successful and we had another long day to follow. But Kawa needed to say what he needed to say to the people of Liverpool and so we had a duty to take him.
Liverpool was very different from the other sites. We were there so late in the evening that there was no one around so we put him next to a giant Christmas reindeer. Here, it was quite evident of the loneliness and isolation that a homeless person must feel as everyone else celebrates Christmas; the time for giving. Occasionally, couples would walk past arm in arm enveloped in love. Kawa was alone.
We got home at 2am and woke at 6:30 am for a grueling drive down to London to deliver the sculptures Albert and our only girl Daisy. People may have been a little perplexed by three very tired people pushing a sack trolly of bubble wrap. But then I think they were more taken with the dramatic landscape of Big Ben and Piccadilly Circus which is where we put Albert and Daisy respectfully.
Certainly people tend not to notice the many homeless people that are sheltered in the back streets and in doorways. They are present but almost invisible just like an ice sculpture of a child that many people would not even notice unless there was a light blazing through it to draw attention to it. Please help us shine a light on the issue of homelessness by sharing our photos with the hashtag #Pleaselookafterme and support charities such as Shelter to petition government for change.
It is a measure of a society how we treat our most vulnerable people and we feel we can do better as we really should not have homelessness in our rich country. We got home from London at 5am. A very long day, but then we did all have our own beds to climb into. This is something that everyone deserves.