In 2021 Museum of Homelessness will research and challenge toxic narratives and behaviour around homelessness and migration.
Project Fortify is a direct support, investigation and campaigning response in solidarity with people who are homeless, supported by the Isla Foundation. In particular but not exclusively we will work with people who are not British nationals including ‘unsettled’ EU nationals who face significant risk in 2021.
The current situation
Our last exhibition, Truths of the Last Ten Years documented an increasingly hostile environment for non-British nationals. Changes to immigration law restrict people’s ability to work, rent a property or access benefits and healthcare and rights of appeal are changed. By 2019, Law centres are reporting surges people who are destitute due to these changes. In 2020 we saw far right groups going into hotels where homeless people were staying, on self reported ‘migrant hunts.’ We saw moves to demonise human rights lawyers. We have also seen recent Home Office announcements about new immigration rules that make rough sleeping grounds for deportation and we know that people are being kept in inhumane conditions in barracks.
Project Fortify will provide direct support, research and campaigning in 2021.
Museum of Homelessness community became increasingly concerned with this through 2020 and we committed to focusing on this area of work for 2021. We are delighted to receive support from the Isla Foundation towards this work. Project Fortify is our response to this situation which aims to fight dehumanisation, increase compassion and decrease racism.
Our frontline activity as part of Homeless Taskforce will provide direct support at a time when people are increasingly isolated from services if their immigration status is uncertain. More widely, we want to increase our knowledge and understanding about how misinformation and discriminatory attitudes towards homeless migrants spreads. Project Fortify will do all of this and our research findings will be shared through creative campaigning methods later in 2021.
To make this project happen in 2021 we will be continuing our work with colleagues who are already tirelessly fighting for change such as NACCOM, Haringey Migrant Support Centre, Glasgow Night Shelter, Scottish Refugee Council and Public Interest Law Centre.
Project funding from the Isla Foundation means that we have been able to welcome Samir Jeraj to the team to work on this project with us. Samir is an acclaimed freelance journalist and author specialising in housing, social affairs, politics, development and local government. Samir is also part of the Homeless Taskforce, MoH’s direct pandemic response in partnership with Streets Kitchen, the Outside Project and the Simon Community.
Samir said “This is a vital project to show solidarity and challenge racism and xenophobia towards the most vulnerable in our society. I look forward to working with the Museum of Homelessness to make a real impact.”
Jess Turtle, cofounder of MoH said “We are living through a time when people arriving in this country to try and find safety are being held in dangerous and inhumane camps. At the same time, museums are being told they must not challenge racism. Our museum community will not allow Museum of Homelessness to stay silent on these matters. We know we must take action. We hope that this project will make a difference.”
Stay in touch through our social media platforms as the project develops in 2021.