Former homeless men become stars of Leeds Christmas art installation

Three former homeless men in Leeds are set to become stars of a festive city centre art installation called ‘My Christmas Home’ by showing how they will spend Christmas day.

By Joanna Wardill
Monday, 6th December 2021, 4:45 pm

The installation, on Bond Court, invites members of the public to step into an immersive video and audio experience which aims to highlight how different households in Leeds spend the big day.

The three men - named Dave, Alan and Tony - were approached to take part through homelessness charity Emmaus Leeds, which partnered with the art project’s organisers, LeedsBID and the artistic collective Found Fiction.

The trio are currently residential ‘companions’ at the Emmaus Leeds community building in Burmantofts, where they are rebuilding their lives after experiencing homelessness, and the film itself is centred around them having a game of pool on Christmas day.

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Emmaus Leeds is a homelessness charity that supports 26 formerly homeless people by providing a home, work, training and individual support.

The charity raises funds by operating a large second-hand superstore on St Mary’s St and a market stall in Kirkgate Market.

Tony, one of the three men who feature in the film said: “‘The experience of the Christmas filming was good.

Tony, one of the three former homeless men from Leeds who star in a festive art installation in the city centre.

“At this time of the year, some people get forgotten and it was nice to be approached and remembered at Christmas, and to acknowledge others at this time of year.

“Emmaus treats you like a real person all year, but you feel part of a larger family at Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing the final film finished and being a part of this amazing project.”

Gina Morrison, general manager of Emmaus Leeds, said: “We are very excited to be taking part in My Christmas Home.

“We love that the installation will show the diversity of households in Leeds, and highlights that Christmas looks different in every household.

'My Christmas Home' is a city centre art installation on Bond Court.

“Being involved in a large community project such as this can help to raise the confidence and self-esteem of our companions, as we support them to turn their lives around after experiencing homelessness.”

Steve Clarkson, founder of Found Fiction, said: “I’m really proud to be celebrating a cross-section of society and bringing lesser-heard voices to the fore — it’s my artistic obligation, and the privilege of a lifetime.

“My hope is that My Christmas Home will build empathy and connections between different Leeds communities by allowing everyone to share in a multitude of Christmas experiences.”

The exhibition is on daily now until December 30,between 11am and 7pm, or 5pm on Sundays, and the Emmaus film will run from December 14-21.

To find out more about Emmaus Leeds, head to www.emmaus.org.uk/leeds/ or about the My Christmas Home exhibition, visit https://christmas.welcometoleeds.co.uk/my-christmas-home/.

*Emmaus Leeds opened its doors in 2003 and has since supported more than 450 people who have experienced homelessness.

It sells a wide range of donated and refurbished furniture, household items, electrical appliances, clothes, bric-a-brac and bikes from its Secondhand Superstore on St Mary’s Street and charity stall at Kirkgate Market.

There are currently 28 Emmaus communities across the country, supporting more than 800 formerly homeless people in the UK.

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