For the month of December, we’re bringing you a series of videos from Homeless Stories, a film initiative that tells the stories of the men and women who end up homeless and the charities that support them.
We sat down with Glenn and Dave to find out more about the project, the people they work with and how you can make a difference.
Can you introduce yourselves to our readers and tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m Glenn Cooper, Senior Director of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships Universal Music. I have worked in digital marketing for 20 years and the Music Business for 25 years and I have always focused on how to build awareness and audiences through engaging emotive storytelling
And I’m Dave Graham, founder of the creative production outfit Crossfire Agency, with studios in UK, Luxembourg and Switzerland. I have been producing engaging narrative led video content for twenty years, for clients on a global scale.
Tell us about Homeless Stories. Where did the idea come from and how has it evolved since you started?
[Glenn] The original idea was inspired by Humans of New York and the desire to use a similar form of storytelling to take a different approach at raising awareness of the homelessness epidemic. We felt that too many people were not engaging in the issue as they didn’t think it was their problem.
It’s too easy to view homeless people as drunks / junkies / wasters, whereas many people have ended up homeless due to losing their jobs, relationship breakdowns, mental health issues so we wanted to tell these important stories to help change public perception.
[Dave] Glenn phoned me up and ranted down the phone to me about this idea he had around capturing the stories of people who have experienced homelessness. I instantly loved it and immediately got to work, bringing in my crew and spending a day capturing stories at our first charity, Glass Door in West London. Once released on our socials these stories had an immediate impact and momentum just grew and grew from there.
The months that followed have completely changed my life, my mind has been officially blown, having now spent time with many charities and individuals and hearing so many powerful stories, not just of destitution, but also of hope and kindness.
We have now worked with twelve small charities around the UK, captured forty stories and had over 1.3 million views on Facebook alone. We really are having a huge positive impact on these individuals, the charities involved and the issue itself. We will be capturing many more stories in 2020.
How does it work? What do you do?
[Dave] So our initial contact is always with a charity. We work with them to find the people who want to tell their story. I work very closely with the charity to organise the logistics of the filming day, such as date, location, timings on the day and ensuring safeguarding is in place.
We also have protocol in place to ensure everyone appearing on camera fully understands why we are filming and where the films and other assets will be seen. We are dealing with very vulnerable people so their safety and happiness is paramount. Nothing goes into the public domain without their approval and they are free to pull out at any time. We give them full control.
For each filming day we aim to capture up to four individual stories, for each story we deliver a full length (3-5 mins) hero edit, a couple of shorter teaser edits and stills that we capture on the day. We then treat each film as a mini campaign, releasing teaser films and stills in the lead up to the hero film release. This helps the stories reach as wide an audience as possible.
[Glenn] I also work with the charities we support on the social media strategy for promoting the films to increase awareness of the great work they are doing in their local community.
We also help the charities set themselves up to receive donations through Facebook and talk them through how to boost posts to amplify their reach. We also share learnings from working with other charities to help increase awareness (on and offline) utilising the films we produce.
You’ve worked with twelve charities so far – can you tell us more about these partner organisations you work with?
[Dave] We have been fortunate to work with fantastic organisations all around the UK, from Brighton to South Shields.
They are all great and very diverse in what they do. Some have a social enterprise attached to their charity, for example Wintercomfort in Cambridge have a cleaning company through which they can offer employment to the people they help out of homelessness.
Another, Northampton Hope Centre, have a charity shop in Northampton, through which they can offer employment to the people they help out of homelessness.
These charities are staffed by incredibly passionate, caring and hard working human beings, who’s sole purpose is to help people less fortunate than themselves. Our aim to help raise awareness of the fantastic work these charities are doing in their communities and to help them develop and grow.
What is the change you want to make with this project?
[Glenn] Our main goal is to broaden awareness on homelessness and to explain the many different forms of homelessness beyond seeing people sleeping on the street (hidden homeless, shelters, sofa surfing etc).
If we can increase awareness of these issues and change people’s perceptions then we can be a part of driving a change in society.
[Dave] Our ambitions are huge, the best example of this is that following on from the success of Homeless Stories, we have now launched Stories for Change, a story telling platform covering the stories of multiple human issues, such as food poverty, hygiene poverty and human trafficking.
We’ve seen the power of what we can do and the impact we can have, and we know this format can work across many issues, on a global scale, not just homelessness in the UK. You can read more at www.storiesforchange.org.uk
For people who watch these stories and are inspired to get involved, to do something to help, what can they do?
[Glenn] our primary goal is to raise awareness, help with donations and volunteer sign-ups for the local homeless charities and social enterprises that we partner with through Lloyds Bank Foundation and independent organisations.
These small charities are doing amazing work in their local communities with limited funds. We also regularly share news stories and advice on how to help and support homeless initiatives and people on the street through our social pages.
[Dave] As a growing social enterprise we need funding, so if any individuals or organisations want to help and play a part in making a difference then please get in touch.
Aside from that the more people that follow and like our social media pages the better. The bigger our community becomes, the more positive impact we will have.