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Banksy unveils new Birmingham work to draw attention to homelessness

The iconic street artist’s latest work shows what he believes the biggest issue should be in this week’s general election

In the final days before the General Election, art provocateur Banksy has unveiled a brand new work that highlights the issue of homelessness.

The graffiti appeared in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and was confirmed as genuine through Banksy’s official Instagram account.

The posted video shows a man, named as ‘Ryan’ settling down to sleep on a bench beside a busy road. He completes a tableau with a pair of reindeers painted on the wall behind him, to become an image of a homeless Santa.

Writing in the Instagram post, Banksy praised the people of Birmingham for their response to ‘Ryan’.

“God bless Birmingham,” he wrote. “In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”

One of the UK’s most popular artists, Banksy is famous for using his platform to force viewers to think about important social issues.

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As Big Issue editor Paul McNamee writes in this week’s magazine, rough sleeping has risen by 165 per cent in recent years.

McNamee adds: “There is simply no doubt that almost a decade of austerity measures have disproportionately hammered the poorest in society.”

The Big Issue continues to offer a hand up, not a hand out to people who are homeless and vulnerably housed. The latest bumper Christmas edition is available now, featuring a cover designed by 12-year-old Kaoriko Tamura, with half of the cover price of every magazine sold going directly to the vendor.

Image: Banksy

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