Last year Reel Access worked with members of Birmingham based homeless charities Crisis and SIFA Fireside to develop a film idea and script called Wetlands. This became a multi part fictional drama that examines society’s relationship to the homeless in our cities and we want to produce that drama bringing the story to life from page to screen. The story of Wetlands will follow the lives of various characters all of whom are looking for a solution to the rising rate of homelessness, however, one woman’s approach hides a dark secret.
The Wetlands Project will enable members of the cast and crew to explore homelessness in the safe space of a fictional story but each episode will end with facts and statistics that demonstrate the realities of being homeless and a call to action. There will be a writing team, rehearsals, filming weeks on location, post-production and a celebratory screening at a central Birmingham cinema.
Why Do It?
SIFA Fireside believes that;
'People suffering from homelessness and deprivation urgently need the benefits of culture, as well as advice and food.'
This project is about making a long form drama but it's also about the health and well being of service users. In past SIFA Fireside surveys, based upon participants taking part in the organisation's arts provision, they found that on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of confidence on average participants started out at 3.75 before the activity and recorded 7.75 after the provision finished. In terms of well being it was 3.60 before the arts provision and 7.25 afterwards. This demonstrates a significant positive impact on well being from engagement in creative activities and we want to continue to contribute to that.
Many of the members of Crisis and SIFA Fireside who make up the Wetlands production team are keen to get involved in a variety of positive activities, which give them transferable skills that improve their chances at securing their futures. Feedback from the development phase of the Wetlands project included one service user saying that;
"We all learnt from each other. To be actually given confidence and shown with practice everything is possible."
Homelessness is a rising problem in all of our cities in the UK but particularly here in Birmingham. Homelessness has tripled since 2010 and the numbers sleeping rough is rising year on year. The homelessness rise is dramatic:
157 cases in 2010 to 3,479 last year in Birmingham (source Resettlement Manager, SIFA Fireside).
Many people are homeless because they cannot keep up payments on their private rentals and have to wait for their benefits to be approved. There are many homeless people with mental health problems. People are homeless due to relationships breaking down; there are many reasons why people become homeless and in turn there are many ways lives can be turned around.
How you can help....
By contributing to our campaign you will help give the participants of the project and those they represent a voice. The cast and crew of Wetlands has been instrumental in the design, development and delivery of the production stage of Wetlands. We have worked collectively to devise and write the script, explore the characters and make creative decisions about the story, what happens and where. The group decided they wanted to produce a multi part drama, like you would see on Netflix or YouTube, rather than a feature film. We like the idea of people waiting for the next instalment to help build tension and felt that this would help the group feel confident in managing the process with the other demands on their time and their lives. It will also enable us to end each episode with a call to action and include statistics and quotes to keep the audience informed about the real lives of those behind the fiction.
Your donation will also contribute directly to much needed supplies for SIFA Fireside and the perks in our campaign include food, clothing and sleeping bags so not only will you be helping create a new piece of work you will also be giving directly to those in need.
You can also help us by sharing the campaign and the story of Wetlands #maketheinvisiblevisible
How we'll spend the money
Reel Access is a not for profit charitable organisation and all the contributions will go towards making the drama. The crowdfund campaign is approximately 50% of what we need to make the project happen and we have also applied for further funding, some of which we have successfully secured from Awards for All.
The pie chart below summarises how we will spend the budget we raise.
Thank you for reading and help us #maketheinvisiblevisible