Young people in Abingdon use art to explore issue of homelessness

Natasha Greenway, left, and Emily Dawson with their art

Natasha Greenway, left, and Emily Dawson with their art Buy this photo

First published in News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

FOR most of us, childhood is the most creative time in our lives.

But for these teenagers, a turbulent childhood meant their creativity had to be put on hold – until now.

Natasha Greenway, 18, Emily Dawson, 18, and Liam Noble, 19, have all been homeless.

They now live in supported accommodation at the Abingdon Foyer.

Last Friday they held a one-day exhibition at the Abingdon Net, in Stratton Way, to bring alive their experiences of homelessness, expressed through painting, poetry and rap.

Emily created a montage to relive her experiences, which helped her to put her situation into perspective.

She still remembers how it was when she became homeless. “No one knew that I was living in my car, and I didn’t want them to know,” she explained.

“I was able to hide it very well. I found out about the Foyer through friends, and I was reluctant to go initially, but once I was there I realised that it was a good place to be in.

“Creating my art work, I have been able to see how far I have actually come, and that my future is brightening up.”

The exhibition was organised by youth social action programme Teamv, to raise awareness about young homeless people. The theme was Past, Present and Future.

Liam Noble, 19, spent seven years of his life being moved around foster homes across the UK. He went into care at the age of nine, having had a turbulent upbringing in Didcot.

After coming out of care, he spent a year trying to live in Peterborough with his father, but that situation did not work out.

He packed his bags and left without saying goodbye.

Liam said he saw homelessness as a “challenge”.

He slept at friends’ houses in Didcot before moving in with his grandmother, then finally going to the Foyer.

For the exhibition, Liam, who aspires to be a chef, wrote a rap about looking forward.

“I wanted to get my point across that it is not all bad if you look into the future,” he said.

He recorded his song with youth workers at the Abingdon Net young people’s centre, and it was played at the exhibition. The Abingdon Foyer provides supported accommodation for 21 people between the ages of 16 and 24.

The centre aims to provide a stable environment where young people can live for up to two years while studying for a qualification or looking for work.

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