Listening to the Unheard gives voice to city’s forgotten

On Sat 30 June, Listening to the Unheard, a day of presentations and discussions at First Base Day Centre, will explore how much we know about the experience of rough sleepers and Travellers in Brighton & Hove.

The event, which is supported by Brighton Dome and other partners, takes as its starting point first-hand accounts of rough sleepers and Irish Travellers, as published in collections of interviews carried out by writer and volunteer Philip Morgan and researcher Dr Roberta Piazza.

Contributing to the conversation will be front line support workers, policy makers and researchers, including participants from Brighton & Hove City Council; Brighton Housing Trust; Friends, Family and Travellers; the Mass Observation Archive and more.

Credit Lois Blackburn (arthur+martha) - U Tramp, beggar travellerLiving in Brighton and being aware of the homeless community, Philip Morgan has volunteered at First Base for a number of years, and it is out of his volunteering there that the Listening to the Unheard project has grown. Morgan argues that “living amongst us are whole nations of dispossessed whose needs and rights are ridden over in the interests of the majority”, and Listening to the Unheard will discuss what can be done for Travellers and rough sleepers, and how local authorities can collaborate to improve resources in existence. The event is free to attend, but tickets must be booked in advance at due to limited capacity.

Dr Roberta Piazza (Reader in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Sussex) has been visiting the Travellers site at Horsdean since 2012, and the resulting interviews have included stories of eviction, rejection, and a desire for a comfortable space to park a caravan and have access to basic facilities. Morgan and Piazza are colleagues and friends, leading to them working together on Listening to the Unheard, offering the forum for discussions and information about the two communities of Travellers and rough sleepers.

Credit Lois Blackburn (arthur+martha) - A Perfect VacuumListening to the Unheard will feature a presentation from the artists behind The Homeless Library, a unique collection of books handmade by homeless people in Greater Manchester, reflecting on their lives and connection to the previously unwritten heritage of rough sleepers (1.45pm). The Homeless Library, curated by athur+martha, will also be on display in the Brighton Dome Cafe-bar during opening hours throughout Tue 3 – Sun 22 July. “There are books and books filled with different people’s experiences and you will not find homeless people’s experiences among them,” explains arthur+martha co-director Philip Davenport. “So, we thought we’ll take all those books and we’ll put these people’s stories in them instead, but we won’t do it, they will do it.”

Credit Lois Blackburn (arthur+martha) - 1. U Tramp, edited Half awake“Society at large portrays homeless people and people with addiction in a very one-dimensional way,” adds arthur+martha co-director Lois Blackburn. “What we get to see with [The Homeless Library] is human beings, and everyone with a different story.”

Dr Roberta Piazza and Philip Morgan’s work so far has resulted in two upcoming books, Irish Travellers: The unknown residents of Horsdean and Housed and Unhoused: Two worlds. Both of these books are available to read online before the event via Issuu and

Listening to the Unheard is supported by Brighton Dome, the University of Sussex Research Impact Fund and Higher Education Innovation Funding, Brighton Housing Trust and Fabrica,

Listening to the Unheard, comes to First Base Day Centre, St Stephen’s Hall, Montpelier Place, Brighton BN1 3BF on Sat 30 June 2018, 10am – 5pm. Admission is free, but pre-booking is required.

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