The Cascade Coffee Shop is at the centre of a drive to help rehabilitate and reintegrate the homeless population of Brighton through the Cascade Creative Recovery organisation. Using the written and spoken word, photography, and art as a tool for communication, the organisation aims to help the vulnerable members of the community share their stories. In a city where the homeless population is marginalised and where people just walk on by, this issue continues to escalate. Invisible Voices of Brighton and Hove is an apt name for this photography exhibition, which is part of a drive to make these voices heard.
The photos are high quality, but it’s the subject matter that makes them important.
This year at the Brighton Fringe the photography exhibition on show, in a little upstairs room of Cascade Coffee, traces the theme of ‘home’. Stories on the wall outline the artists' relationship (who are, or have recently been, sleeping rough) with what they consider as ‘home’. One story told of a man’s close relationship with his Nan, whom he could not bring himself to tell about his living condition. Other stories highlighted the importance of music, citing a guitar or another instrument as a companion. Dogs featured a lot in these photos, and as numerous hostels and shelters don’t accept them, an ultimatum arises for lots of homeless people between having a roof over their head or staying with a pet which, for many, acts as both friend and family. A lot choose to forgo the shelter rather than choose to be separated from their companion.
The exhibition is free to all, and worth the visit for the inside view it offers into the lives of Brighton’s homeless community. The photos are of high quality, but it’s the subject matter that makes them important. A common misconception about homelessness and addiction is that it occurs in a vacuum, that addiction is the cause, rather than a symptom, of social isolation. Invisible Voices uses art to tell untold stories, attempting to tackle this lack of understanding in the public, and to challenge these misconceptions. For this it deserves the attention of Fringe-goers!