IN 2012 ARTIST GARRETT PHELAN AND COMMUNITY WORKER DECLAN MARKEY INDEPENDENTLY SET ABOUT CREATING A PROCESS OF RESEARCH FOCUSSING ON HOMELESSNESS IN DUBLIN, IRELAND. THE STARTING POINT WAS TO PARTNER WITH AN UMBRELLA ORGANISATION THAT COULD PROVIDE ACCESS TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS. THE ORGANISATION THAT WAS IDENTIFIED WAS THE DUBLIN REGION HOMELESS EXECUTIVE. THE DRHE SUPPORTED THE RESEARCH FOR THIS PROJECT, PROVIDING ACCESS TO OTHER ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS FROM WITHIN THE HOMELESS SECTOR OR WITH RELEVANCE TO IT. THROUGH THE DRHE, CROSSCARE, IN PARTICULAR FIONA BARRY, SENIOR SERVICE MANAGER BECAME AN IMPORTANT MENTOR, CONSULTANT PARTNER AND INFLUENCE IN OUR RESEARCH.
While carrying out this research, meeting a vast array both of people and services connected to the homeless sector, it became clear to us that “homelessness” never just occurs in and of itself. What does occur are major personal challenges which have devastating effects on a person and their circumstances. These challenges involve personal finance, mental and physical health, addiction, mental and physical abuse, institutional discrimination, housing provision and other serious issues. These are the factors that potentially create a situation of existence without shelter and which have lead us to consider that there is in reality no such thing as a ‘homeless person’.
Homelessness is a state or situation an individual finds his or herself in, yet by identifying someone as a “Homeless Person” we stigmatize that individual. We attach a label that separates them from the rest of society and categorizes them as something different, when in fact they are simply people in a specific situation. No other situational label carries such disruptive and alienating consequences. Neither does the term ‘Homelessness’ adequately serve the extensive web of services and distinct and non-distinct groups, situations and experiences.
Having been struck by the complexity of the homeless sector and the futility of trying to do something worthwhile without focussing on a specific area, the project took the direction of working with 18 to 25 year olds as this is the age group that receives least advocacy. Rather than specifically looking at youths at risk, which would potentially increase stigmatisation, we decided to focus instead on 18 to 25 year olds as an inclusive whole community within the Greater Dublin Area. This age group as a whole is bereft of advocacy. It is regularly stereotyped by mainstream media platforms and often lost in the mix between adult and children's services.
With our first project, HEED FM, we decided to be all-inclusive and use a familiar media platform, the radio broadcast, in a new and different way. We wanted to give in-depth time to this group, without focussing on the negatives associated with their generation but instead listening to their loves, passions and ambitions.
Moving forward with the development of HEED FM into HEED OFFICE the aim is to present real potential for opportunities for those that took part in previous HEED OFFICE projects to also develop as they become an active part of the development and future of HEED OFFICE, helping to define future forms and platforms, taking the project to its national and international potential.
This central involvement of contributors creates an embedded model of self-determined creativity – the subjects will become the makers.