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Behind each face and piece of art, there’s a story being told...

By Mike Saull, Volunteer.

I’m no Constable or Picasso, but I do get pleasure from painting and can sometimes produce a piece of work that’s half recognisable. .

You don’t always get if right, but with a little knowledge and plenty of practice it’s surprising how quickly you can create an interesting effect that reflects what you are trying to portray.

Volunteering at The Ark is equally challenging - you never quite know what the day will throw at your canvas, let alone how you’ll control it and make some sense from it for those who seek our help.

So when it was suggested I brought painting to The Ark it was with some trepidation and no real expectation, that the staff and I encouraged our clients to have a go.

It’s not easy working with the lads and lasses on the street - most hadn't picked up a paintbrush since they were at school and a good number really didn’t want to know.

But lured by the prospect of copious coffee, cake and companionship, in the warmth of The Ark, it’s been surprising what can be achieved.

While none of us will ever master wet on wet completely - the odd sky, starry night or a simple seascape, will always have something right about it.

And when nothing much else is going right in your life, these simple ‘wins’ have been great to experience.

To see the surprise and delight on the face of someone who’s facing an uphill struggle to survive and yet, when taking a little time away from their troubles they manage to tame some paint on their paper, is quite magical.

I think we’ve learned that anyone can have a go and anyone can benefit from expressing themselves. Even if the work isn’t up to much, there’s plenty to be gained in a quiet time and from a good natured chat over a brew.

So, please do pop into the Pride Hill Centre during World Homeless Week (5th - 8th October) and take a look at some of the work on display in the shop windows..

Behind each face and piece of art there’s a story being told and the stories on show are often harrowing and humbling in equal measure.

I hope they help increase awareness of what it’s really like to be down and out and on the other side of the street.


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