Housing

Big Issue and Cardboard Citizens present new film series showing homelessness is more than one story

The charity has created nine short films that each explore a reason for somebody being homeless

(Left to right, from top row) Natasha Sparkes in Boiling Frogs; Noah Silverstone in And For Once, I Just Let It Be Nice; Shahab Awad and Community Company in This Is What It Means; Mansa Ahmed with Noor Bashir in Sabbir at the Estate Agents; David Olapoju in Ozwald Boateng, If You Must; Michael Quartey in No Walls, Still Trapped

As a supporter of Big Issue, you know as well as we do that every vendor has their own story. Homelessness is not the big issue in itself, rather the result of other problems, prejudices and failures in the system. Cardboard Citizens is a charity that uses drama and performance to transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness. Like Big Issue, they were founded in 1991 and have likewise spent more than three decades supporting those on the margins and amplifying their voices. 

They have created a new series of short films in collaboration with Black Apron Entertainment, called More Than One Story. Each of the nine monologues explores a reason for somebody becoming homeless – from domestic violence to failures in the care or prison system. The first monologue, Sandwiches, is up now.

Written and performed by 18 artists, each with their own experience of homelessness, poverty or inequity, More Than One Story challenges misconceptions around homelessness in the UK today. 

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Chris Sonnex is artistic director and joint CEO of Cardboard Citizens. He said: “Many of us with lived experience of homelessness know all too well that there are many variables outside of us that create these inequities. This is why we have commissioned a raft of fearless and talented writers to help us better interrogate the systemic failings and biases that lead to the stark division between the haves and the have nots.

“We’re collaborating with writers who understand homelessness, poverty and inequity from the inside, who can bring stories that are hidden from view into the light with an authenticity that resonates with their own experiences.” 

The More Than One Story series shines a spotlight on the human side of homelessness and Big Issue is proud to be a media partner. In the magazine each week we will bring you a new film, with the story behind the story and a link to watch via our website where they will be available to watch
from Thursdays.

The first monologue is called Sandwiches. It gives a frank, first-person perspective on what living on the streets is really like. The storyteller Ellie, played by Oriana White, tells us about the world-shrinking that goes on and the performative pity of passers-by who overload her with sandwiches. 

“Whatever I need from you, and whatever I want from you, it’s not sandwiches,” Ellie says. “I reject your half-hearted, minimal possible effort, shoulder-length attempts to make me part of your world via your sympathy.” 

Sandwiches was written by Naomi Westerman, a writer and anthropologist with experience of homelessness, whose work has been performed in theatres across the UK.  

Cardboard Citizens special screening

This weekend, on Saturday 13 July, Cardboard Citizens will be hosting a special screening event at the Barbican Cinema featuring all nine monologues and followed by a panel discussion on social justice inspired by some of the issues featured in the films. The panel includes multi-award-winning author, former Children’s Laureate and Cardboard Citizens Ambassador, Malorie Blackman), More Than One Story director, writer and artistic director of Cardboard Citizens Chris Sonnex, and Big Issue Ambassador Sabrina Cohen-Hatton (all pictured above), alongside other writers and performers. Tickets for this event are sold out, but you can reserve one for another screening at Hoxton Hall on 25 July

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? Get in touch and tell us moreBig Issue exists to give homeless and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy of the magazine or get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

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If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
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