Members of the public are invited to borrow a book from a shelf at an information event on homelessness at Norwich Cathedral on February 8. This isn’t an ordinary book with pages and an index but a person who has experience of homelessness who has volunteered to be part of a ‘living library’.
Visitors to the Cathedral can browse the titles, then ‘borrow’ the person for ten minutes to listen to their story and ask questions to gain an insight into their experience of homelessness.
Organised by St Martins, it is hoped that the Living Library will enable people to better understand the everyday life conditions for a homeless person by giving them the opportunity to ask frank and open questions.
Nicky King, Head of Life Skills and Social Development at St Martins said, “The most common assumption is that a person who is homeless brought it upon themselves. We all have preconceived ideas about people and this is a chance to challenge some of these stereotypes through the voices of people who really know what it’s like. Our message is to not judge a book by its cover, but to open it, understand it and learn from it.”
Readers are asked to be open-minded and respectful. Difficult questions will be asked and answered in a positive approach to addressing the issue of homelessness.
Nicky said, “People want to know what they can do to help, especially when they encounter a person on the street. Should they give money, should they buy food? Charities advise not to but they feel bad about walking past. We want to equip people so they can feel confident about how to respond.”
The ‘Living Library’ will run as part of an event on homelessness event at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday February 8 from 10.30am – 2.30pm