10th Oct 2023

RANDOM OBJECTS OF KINDNESS: Audio-visual Storytelling Exhibition

Commissioned by Manchester Arndale and created by Heard Storytelling in support of Real Change MCR, Manchester Arndale

10-23 October 2023

Striking audio-visual exhibition shares spoken stories about homelessness in Manchester

RANDOM OBJECTS OF KINDNESS – a free audio-visual exhibition about lived experiences of homelessness in Manchester launched at Manchester Arndale today (10 October), coinciding with World Homelessness Day and World Mental Health Day.

Ten people who have lived experiences of homelessness, or have worked in local support agencies, are publicly sharing their deeply personal and candid spoken stories as part of the project created by the local spoken stories company, Heard Storytelling. The exhibition aims to increase understanding of the different factors contributing to homelessness and highlight the importance of community support.

The installation comprises beautiful, large-scale portraits of the storytellers and their spoken stories can be accessed via scanning a QR code on listeners’ mobile phones.

Next to each ‘living portrait’ – captured by photographer Ahmani Vidal – is an image of an item pivotal to their journey towards independent living.

From the gift of a guitar and the transformative power of music to a birthday cake which offered a rare moment of celebration on the streets and became a powerful turning point, the audio recordings narrated by the participants themselves take listeners on personal and candid journeys.

Joe explains how a pivotal moment at Moss Side’s Pepperhill pub started a remarkable change from a chaotic life of crime and hopelessness to one of resilience and purpose. Michelle takes listeners on her journey from the despair of street homelessness to the respite of reuniting with her daughter and playing piano side by side.

Jimi Hendrix’s music became a steadfast companion through trials that tested the very core of Graham’s existence, while Risha’s story traces a journey of resilience, ultimately leading to the creation of Coffee 4 Craig in honour of Risha’s brother, where the simple act of offering clean underwear becomes a symbol of dignity and self-esteem.

The 10 true spoken stories can be accessed via scanning the QR code next to the storyteller’s portrait, as well as being hosted online at manchesterarndale.com from 10 October.

RANDOM OBJECTS OF KINDNESS runs until 23 October at Manchester Arndale and is located on the mall near the Morphe store. It has been commissioned by the shopping centre to raise awareness of and donations to one of its charity partners, Real Change MCR.

The storytellers with lived experience of homelessness were all supported in their journey by Real Change MCR, which is a fund that helps people experiencing homelessness in Manchester pay for practical items that they need to build lives away from the streets, such as deposits for homes, clothes, furnishing new homes, travel costs and employability training.

The fund is utilised by over 20 Manchester homelessness organisations and charities, including Barnabus, Shelter, MASH, Coffee4Craig and Mustard Tree, who provide long-term support on the journey to independent living. Real Change MCR has a panel of people who volunteer their time to run, manage and allocate funds. As well as homelessness organisations and charities, the panel includes people who have been homeless and members of the business community and other Manchester organisations.

Donations to the fund can be made via mobile phone at the exhibition, or via realchangemcr.co.uk

David Allinson, Centre Director at Manchester Arndale said, “Manchester Arndale is proud to partner with Real Change MCR and we hope that this captivating exhibition will raise awareness of the fantastic work achieved by the fund. The people involved share truly inspiring and deeply personal stories and we are honoured to host them. Over the two-week exhibition, we encourage all visitors to the Centre to take time out of their day to listen, reflect and donate if they can.”

Alex King, panellist and ambassador for Real Change MCR and Partnership Director for CityCo said: “The business community in Manchester is a proud supporter of Real Change MCR, which offers a lifeline to people who want to rebuild their lives away from the streets. By working together with grassroots Manchester charities, we are proud to have helped so many of the city’s most vulnerable people into their own homes. Like everyone, our local business community wants to see an end to street homelessness. We will continue to donate and raise awareness and help people rebuild their lives in our city.”

Colette Burroughs-Rose, Director of Heard Storytelling said, “The Random Objects of Kindness exhibition has empathy and compassion at its core. It goes beyond the surface, exploring the true stories and struggles of people who have been affected by homelessness. We aimed to shed light on the multifaceted causes of homelessness, its impact on diverse communities and the support needed to build a life away from the streets. We hope these spoken stories will have a lasting impact on listeners, opening hearts and minds in the same way that they opened ours.”


For more media information, please contact Suzanne or Megan at Manchester Arndale

Suzanne –  suzanne.armfield@cbre.com  07825 680750
Megan – megan.stadnicki@cbre.com 07518 298942

All images are to be credited to Ahmani Vidal.

Notes to Editors:

Manchester Arndale is one of the UK’s largest city centre shopping malls, welcoming over 42 million visitors in an average year. It boasts an impressive line-up of more than 200 shops and restaurants, including international, national and local brand www.manchesterarndale.com

Heard Storytelling is a spoken stories company that creates positive change. They harness the power of lived experience – told in your own words – to bring communities closer, make businesses better and ultimately deepen connections anywhere they can. www.heardstorytelling.com

Real Change MCR Real Change MCR is a fund to help people experiencing homelessness in Manchester pay for practical items that they need to build lives away from the streets. The items can include: deposits for homes, clothes, furnishings for new homes, travel costs or employability training. The fund is used by Manchester homelessness organisations and charities who provide long-term support on the journey to independent living.www.realchangemcr.co.uk

CityCo is on the Board of the Manchester Homelessness Partnership.