15-year-old student Izzy Durose is a budding photographer, while Desmond Hue uses poetry to aid his continuing recovery from heroin addiction. At first glance they may seem an unlikely pairing, but the duo are putting on a joint exhibition to support the Big Issue North Trust.
In the latest issue of street paper Big Issue North, out today, Izzy and Desmond have given an exclusive interview to explain how they met, their plans for the exhibition at Blackpool Winter Gardens, and why raising awareness of rough sleeping is so important to them.
For Desmond, the link to rough sleeping is intensely personal. In the interview, he talks about his two decades as a heroin user and six years as a rough sleeper.
Having slowly turned his life around, aided by the creative release of poetry, Desmond’s thoughts turned to helping others in similar situations, and he began working as an apprentice with Blackpool community interest company Jobs, Friends and Houses.
As well as providing him with the stability he needed, his job also found him working alongside Kirsten Durose, Izzy’s mum.
When Kirsten showed her daughter Desmond’s spoken word work on Facebook, Izzy instantly saw how his words could work alongside her stark photography to open people’s eyes to the issues of homelessness. At Izzy’s request, Kirsten brought the two together to plan their exhibition, named Homeless not Soulless after one of Desmond’s poems.
Readers of this week’s Big Issue North, sold across the North from Liverpool to Hull, can discover much more about the exhibition, as well as discovering more about Desmond’s story, and how he used poetry and helping others to help change his life.
Explaining why she was keen to focus on raising funds for the Trust through the exhibition, Izzy told Big Issue North: “I’ve been interested in the issue of homelessness for a long time. My family has always bought Big Issue North whenever we saw someone selling it.
“It was always drummed into me that if you have £2.50, buying a copy is more important than buying a coffee. Not everyone sees things like this so we want to raise awareness.”
The Trust provides support to Big Issue North vendors as they look to make positive changes to their lives, from assistance with accessing accommodation and health services to advice around managing money.
Homeless not Soulless takes place from 7pm to 9.30pm on Saturday, 30 April at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. Entry is free but donations are encouraged.