This Christmas, clients from across SHP services came together to share their festive hopes and wishes through art.

Titled ‘All I want is Christmas’, the project draws upon client’s own personal experiences and perspectives on ideas of Christmas and Christmas gifts. Overall, more than 25 clients participated from across ten SHP services, producing 30 pieces of art work.  

Meghan O’Malley, SHP’s Arts Coordinator, said: “Christmas can often be a painful time for our clients, with many feeling isolated and lonely. I wanted the clients to reclaim Christmas and think about it in a more positive way.”

Christmas gifts and homelessness

 “People often just think people who are homeless want the essentials at Christmas time” said Meghan. “The project wanted our clients to open up, express their voice and say what they would actually like, like we all do.

“Each artwork showed their dream present - from a pair of heeled shoes to intangible gifts that can’t be bought, such as the hope to embark on their recovery journey. We hope this helps people think about our clients as people, rather than just people who are homeless.”

Lloyd, who took part in the project said: 'I've always wanted to draw and paint, as I didn't get the chance to do it at school. I have learning difficulties, and feel myself getting stronger by trying art, drama and music. I like studying with people at the group, they are very kind to me.'

This project echoes SHP’s corporate gift-giving project, where local businesses have donated more than 650 personalised gift to clients living in our supported accommodation service. Each client filled in a tag, indicating three things about them to ensure the gift they receive is personal to them.

It also showed that many share the same dreams and aspirations. Two clients who have never met, from different generations, both listed ‘happiness’ as their Christmas wish.

All the pieces were displayed for a private exhibition at Somers Town Living Centre. They were also included in a booklet, printed for all the clients and staff involved.  

Want to see some of the art? We’re sharing an art piece a day as part of an advent calendar on our Instagram page.