Sheffield homeless people tell of hardship through comic strip

A comic strip created by a homeless person in Sheffield.
A comic strip created by a homeless person in Sheffield.
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A group of homeless people have come up with a unique way of describing the harshness of life on the streets by telling their stories in a comic strip.

The Workers’ Education Association and the Sheffield Cathedral Archer Project joined forces to launch the unique scheme, which is believed to be the first of its kind.

Guided by acclaimed graphic novelist Russell Wall, group members created the comic strip ‘ONT’STREET...’

One of the comics described how ‘hunger strikes hard’ and ‘stealing enters the mind when walking past food shops’.

Another reveals what is it like for a teenager who first experienced homelessness at the age of 13 and how he struggles with the need to both ‘desensitise’ his mind against hardship and ‘keep his wits about him’ while sleeping rough.

Tutor Russell, who has been nominated for an Eisner Award - the comic book industry’s Oscars, said: “Comic fans more familiar with superheroes in spandex or the antics of funny animals be prepared: ‘ONT’STREET…’ is a very different comic genre. The dramatic stories, and the raw emotions they convey, are in turn darkly humorous, matter-of-fact and thought provoking in the best tradition of Charles Dickens.”

Russell added that he and the group were disgusted with the stereotypes around homelessness.

He said: “These avoid conversations about the many underlying complex social issues that are making life a living hell for some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

One of the group members, who did not want to be named, said the experience had helped boost their confidence.

They added: “I was on my own, so not just doing the art but being in an art group with other people and socialising with them was good for my confidence and my mental health. It’s my very first time that I have used a paint brush and paints.”

The group is now looking to bring the comic strips together into a book that hope to have published later this year.