We met with Keith at a B2B conference back in April 2015. Following on from a brief chat, we were intrigued by a musical on the subject of homelessness! We agreed to meet with Keith and at that meeting our understanding of the potential power of Busker was laid.
Our charitable work is with the most vulnerable, hard to reach, complex and disengaged people. Their lives are incredibly tough and the trauma that they have experienced in life goes beyond the public imagination. Our challenge at Simon on the Streets is to portray their story, give a voice to a minority group who are desperately misunderstood in common culture. In our work with our clients, one of the most important things we have in our tool box as we aim to engage, is empathy. Just to be a ´someone´ who has the time to really listen and really empathise is about the most powerful thing that we can give. But how do you portray a need for empathy? Our belief is that by discussing homelessness and the multiple complex issues that our clients face, through art, it can lead to a deeper understanding.
Keith asked us to work with him to help build a sense of authenticity into the musical. Having read through the early scripts, there were a few points that we felt we could help with. We worked with Keith to develop his own understanding of the experience of homelessness. These meetings have continued regularly over the last year. Very often the conversations will evolve around questions that Keith brings to the table, questions that are very common to us. From his growth in understanding, Keith has gone on to volunteer on outreach with our workers. Our workers were keen to feedback that Keith´s empathy and compassion was clear. In the brief conversations that Keith has had with our clients on the streets at night, it is obvious to us and to them that he genuinely cares and wants to help.
We are incredibly confident in Busker the musical, in its ability to educate whilst it entertains. For us, if those that see the musical go home with questions, perhaps that they ask each other, or ask us, then the project has already succeeded to bring huge value to our charity. Beyond that the fundraising potential of Busker and Keith´s commitment to make possible future runs, is obviously an essential part of ensuring that we can continue our work. Our independence is crucial to our service delivery. The time we can take, to work at the pace of those we support, is what we believe helps people to make changes in their lives that are self-motivated and self-sustaining.
People experience homelessness is many different ways. For us at Simon on the Streets, homelessness and rough sleeping are part of an experience of multiple complex needs, such as addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues and unresolved childhood trauma. All of these issues are confrontational and people should expect to be confronted when they go to see Busker. However, alongside all of that, every person has a story, every person has the capacity for positive change. Amongst people everywhere, no matter how difficult their lives there is always a space for humour. Busker will tackle all of these things and we are hugely excited and honoured to benefitting from this crucial artistic work.