Housing

Exhibition shows a reaction to a homeless person’s Frequently Asked Questions

Artist Anthony Luvera’s work claims 91 per cent of local authorities in the UK can’t answer basic queries about homelessness in their communities

Frequently Asked Questions Anthony Luvera

A new exhibition claims that 91 per cent of local authorities can’t answer basic queries about homelessness after an artist and a man with experience of the issue teamed up to quiz councils.

Frequently Asked Questions opens at the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft in Bristol later this month showcasing five years’ worth of research by artist Anthony Luvera in collaboration with Gerald Mclaverty.

The pair sent basic questions like: “where can I go for something to eat?”, “where can I find shelter from when it is raining or snowing?” or “where can I sleep during the night that is safe?” to 110 councils across the UK this year in a bid to find out about basic living provisions.

Frequently Asked Questions Anthony Luvera
Frequently_Asked_Questions_by_Anthony_Luvera_exhibition
Frequently Asked Questions shines a light on the difficulty that homeless people have in accessing services they have a right to

With 41 councils failing to respond and others treating the questions as freedom of information requests or replying with automated lists of links, the duo insisted that the exhibition uncovers the shocking and poignant challenge people face every day while living without secure accommodation.

“The range of responses to these questions from across the country is, quite frankly, alarming to me. Most of the replies were automated emails signposting the reader towards websites and other general resources,” said Luvera.

“Rarely did the sender acknowledge or engage with Gerald or the queries in a direct or practical way. This in itself seemed to say as much about the state of the nation’s legislated homeless support sector as the information it made available.”

Councils, which have been hit hard by austerity and cuts, now face a legal duty to give homeless people assistance inside 56 days under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 after it came into force last April.

But the local authority’s responses form a large part of the wall installation in the exhibition, sitting alongside Mclaverty’s written personal experience of homelessness.

He and Luvera joined forces after Frequently Asked Questions was first shown in 2014 as part of Brighton Photo Fringe’s Assembly, a larger body of work made with over 50 local homeless people.

Since then, the pair have been continually showing off their results and quizzing councils to highlight the difficulties that homeless people encounter in accessing assistance with shelter, personal safety, health, food and communication.

Produced in association with Museum of Homelessness, the exhibition will be heading to Bristol between November 27 and December 12 before being shown off at The Gallery at Foyles, London, from January 13 to February 16.

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