Image for A graphic novel written by young homeless people is helping change lives

A graphic novel written by young homeless people is helping change lives

The Book of Homelessness has proven a surprising hit among readers, and is helping some young people move forward in their lives

The Book of Homelessness has proven a surprising hit among readers, and is helping some young people move forward in their lives

The Accumulate Art School for the Homeless was established in London five years ago by Marice Cumber to help young homeless people move forward in their lives through creative projects.

The school runs courses in graphic design, illustration, fashion, photography, sculpture and other subjects, helping participants build skills and enter education, employment or training. In November 2020, Accumulate published what the team believes to be the world’s first graphic novel made by people affected by homelessness.

The Book of Homelessness is an anthology of drawings and writing that gives its creators a platform to explain their experiences from their perspective.

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“The stories in the book are personal, emotional, raw and honest. They are stories of pain, of abuse, of dysfunction, of families, of war, of rejection, of misplaced love, of overcoming difficulties and of fighting, and succeeding,” said Cumber.

Now, enough money has been raised from sales to fund a scholarship for an Accumulate participant. They will take up a place on the Access to HE course in design and digital media at Ravensbourne University London.

“This is a very special thing,” Cumber told Positive News. “It means that the creativity of a group of people affected by homelessness will support someone else who is homeless to change their lives through creative education.”

Sales have exceeded expectations and a reprint was necessary to satisfy demand. The Book of Homelessness has been bought by people across the world as well as by libraries in universities and cities.

The participants from hostels, shelters and temporary accommodation were invited to a series of creative workshops run by Accumulate. Writing, drawing and illustration classes were held at a gallery in Shoreditch, east London.

Amalia, who took part, said: “The workshops helped me to grow and transform and heal from domestic abuse, from being homeless and unstable.”

All profits from sales of the book are shared with its authors and Accumulate, so it can continue to provide creative workshops. Books cost £25 and can be purchased here.

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