Activism

Michael Sheen donates £10,000 to homelessness art fund

The actor encouraged others who are "fortunate enough to make good money” to “stop talking about it, step up and help”. 

Welsh actor, producer, and political activist Michael Sheen has donated £10,000 to Arts and Homelessness International (AHI), an organisation that works with homeless people around the world to bring positive change through arts and creativity and reduce inequality.

“I’ve just given £10,000 to this brilliant, ambitious project,” he wrote on Twitter. “If you want to see change happen and, like me, you are fortunate enough to make good money, then stop talking about it, step up and help orgs like @artshomelessint.

“‘Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not.’” he added.

AHI, which was founded in 2012, supports people with experience of homelessness into paid work in the creative industries and aims to help them to become global cultural leaders. 

The organisation is currently working to create the first annual leadership programme for homeless people, designed to give access to training, peer networking, and creative placements to those who need it most. 

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The crowdfunder states: “We envision a world in which creativity is an integral part of homelessness and people who are or have been homeless are an intrinsic part of the arts. We bring positive change to people, projects and policy in homelessness around the world through creativity.”

Half of the organisation’s board of trustees and staff team reportedly have lived experience of homelessness. David Tovey, former homeless artist, campaigner, and creative producer at AHI, is one of them. 

“Art has given me back my self-worth, my confidence, it’s helped with my wellbeing and has showed me how resilient I really am. I know if it can do it for me, it can do it for others as well,” says Tovey. 

When he found out that Sheen had donated £10,000 to their project, Tovey said he was “so happy” he “could cry”. 

The impact of Covid-19 has meant that the demand for many charities is up, while income is down. Recent research by academics in Birmingham and Southampton revealed that for just over a fifth of charities, cash reserves were equivalent to less than a month’s spending.

Sheen has a long history of putting his hand in his own pocket to help homeless charities. Last year, he “put it all on the line” to cover funding shortages to ensure that the Homeless World Cup went ahead in Cardiff. More recently, he launched his own creative arts scheme to help people from working-class backgrounds to break into the industry. Sheen himself has said that the pandemic had made “those inequalities and those unfairnesses even more extreme.”

So far, the crowdfunder has raised £17,560 — 87 per cent of its £20,000 target. It is still accepting donations. You can donate to the AHI crowdfunder here

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