Shoppers in Newcastle’s busy Northumberland Street were surprised this morning to find themselves part of a ‘Flash Mob’ as around 200 people suddenly sat down.
The event was organised by The Cyrenians and designed by students of Northumbria University who were seeking to highlight the alarming numbers of people who are supported by The Cyrenians over the Christmas holiday period.
Each day The Cyrenians supports 1,200 people and provides sleeping accommodation for 200.
The Flash Mob involved members of the public and students who suddenly emerged from the crowd to sit down on Northumberland Street’s pedestrianised roadway.
Ollie Batchelor, Executive Director of The Cyrenians said:
“The Cyrenians aims to highlight the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Even though homelessness is a problem all year round and ‘A Homeless Person Is Not Just For Christmas’; this is generally the time of year when homelessness is recognised as a real issue.
“At The Cyrenians we work 365 days a year helping some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in the North East. Just because people are out of sight, shouldn’t mean they are out of mind. The students at Northumbria have done an excellent job in helping us to bring this message to the attention of more people.”
Students studying ‘Design’ at Northumbria University were at the forefront developing this latest campaign by The Cyrenians, entitled “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”.
Devised by Charlotte Ashcroft, Laura Blain, Angela Burnell, Laura Caughey and US student Bridget Harper, the campaign was the winning entry in a competition in which The Cyrenians invited the students to take part.
The innovative campaign involved helping to co-ordinate the Flash Mob combined with advertising, leaflets and posters on buses and Metro trains and stations across the City. Student Angela Burnell explained:
“We discovered that the Cyrenians support 1,200 people on a daily basis and offer beds to more than 200 homeless people every night. That got us thinking about what Newcastle would be like if those spaces weren’t available and how that would impact on the lives of homeless people.
“By asking people to take part in the Flash Mob on one of Newcastle’s most iconic streets, we aim to show that while homelessness is often out of sight, it is an issue that is always with us.
“Working on the campaign certainly raised my awareness of homelessness in the City and now I feel its important raise other people’s too.”
Mike Pinkney, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design, added:
“The Flash Mob is an exciting way of visually illustrating the numbers of homeless people which the Cyrenians look after every day of the year, and who would otherwise be living ‘on the streets’ of the North East.
“The students have benefited enormously from working with such a dynamic and innovative charity as the Cyrenians on this live project.”