Working with the homeless can ‘generate knowledge for social change’

Art can be used to showcase the skills and highlight the plight of the homeless living among us, says Brighton PhD student

December 25, 2015
Bruno De Oliveira (right) with Emmaus residents Matt (centre) and Lee (left)

A Brighton PhD student is creating an exhibition with the city’s homeless as a way of “generating knowledge for social change”.

Bruno De Oliveira came from Brazil to the University of Brighton in 2007 to study psychology and then went on to a master’s in community psychology and now a doctorate.

“Even when the coverage is not totally negative,” he said, “the media are very naive and arbitrary in talking about the homeless.”

He added that affluent Britain’s general treatment of rough sleepers could be seen as “a form of violence”, with councils across the country “threatening to fine the homeless up to £1,000 – this is an example of how society fears and blames the homeless when what we really need are ways to bring them and society closer together, to bring the two into dialogue with each other”.

In order to achieve his goal of “bringing people in to talk about the homeless, Mr De Oliveira has joined forces with the homelessness charity Emmaus Brighton and Hove as well as University of Brighton art students who have volunteered to offer skills workshops.

He also enjoys the support of the Community University Partnership Programme, which is committed to “tackl[ing] disadvantage and promot[ing] sustainable development”.

Meanwhile, Mr De Oliveira has already found five Emmaus residents as “experts in the field and co-researchers”, some of whom already have artistic experience. One called Matt said he has “done all sorts of art and graphic design” and is “into textile design” but hopes to work in furniture making or tattooing once he leaves Emmaus.

After a smaller exhibition as part of his master’s, Mr De Oliveira is now reaching out to other charities with a view to finding about 10 homeless people for an exhibition as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival next May.

Much of the exhibition will use the “photovoice” technique which combines photography with commentary designed to promote discussion on issues such as the 30-year gulf in average lifespan between the homeless and the rest of the population.

Mr De Oliveira hopes the exhibition will not only provide “a better understanding of homelessness but bring social change and emancipation for the people I am working with…I want to get away from the idea of power owned by academics and move towards collaboration with the community. It can be a very effective way of generating knowledge for social change.”

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan

University of Oxford

Reinstatement of professor over age discrimination must force rethink over ‘unfair’ retirement rules, say campaigners

Students in lecture hall

Simon Baker explores the mechanics of the teaching excellence framework to determine if it was fair, if universities will attempt to game it, if it will win public favour and if it will change in future iterations