October 26th, 2016

Films tell story of Leamington’s homeless

Updated: 7:36 am, Sep 27, 2015

FILMMAKERS are helping the homeless in Leamington by documenting their struggles.

Alex Harvey, of filming and marketing company Inifinite Pixel, regularly bumped into homeless people while working in the town.

And after talking to a homeless man near his office on the Parade, he was inspired to to make two short films showcasing how those on the streets live.

The films, which are five minutes long in total, have already been viewed an impressive 30,000 times since they were uploaded to Facebook earlier this week.

The 35-year-old from Kenilworth told the Observer: “I’ve seen a lot of the homeless people walking up and down begging. Having walked past them a number of times a few weeks ago I started chatting to a man called James.

“His story surprised me and I could see he wasn’t on drink or drugs. He was really well-spoken and he agreed to talk on camera along with his brother, who is also homeless.

“Since putting them online the response from Leamington residents has been overwhelming.”

The films show the two brothers on the streets, with one haunting scene filmed in a run-down area where they occasionally slept.

The brothers say the sheltered area, just off Bedford Street behind the old Barclays bank, quickly became littered with rubbish and drugs paraphernalia as more people decided to stop there.

James – who features in both films – even felt compelled to clean up after drug users left unsheathed needles on the ground.

He admits his family do not know he sleeps rough but said: “It’s sort of comfy and dry – we were invited there but the actual paraphernalia and mess there is disgusting. They don’t even cover their needles.

“I’ve tidied it up before. My brother tells me off because it’s disgusting and dangerous but I’d rather take that risk than a five year old kid.”

In the films the brothers also talk about discovering a fellow homeless person had died and their struggle to find somewhere to sleep.

Warwick District Council chiefs say the number of homeless people in the district is difficult to calculate, but last year there were just over 700 applications for accommodation – nearly six times as many as it received four years earlier – although half were deemed to not actually be homeless.

The council is drawing up a new Homelessness Strategy in a bid to tackle the problem over the next two years, with priorities focused on providing suitable accommodation and effective help and advice.

To support some of those on the streets, dad-of-two Alex and his colleagues have started a fund-raising page to raise money for local homeless charities.

He said: “My intention is to raise awareness for these guys and others like them in Leamington and hopefully make some money for homeless charities in the area.

“Ideally we would like to raise £3,000 to allow us to help buy things for the homeless locally as well as make more of these films.”

Visit www.facebook.com/InfinitePixelLeamington to view the videos or visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/infinite-pixel to donate.