HoMie – Homeless of Melbourne Concept Store
One of the best things about social media has to be the fact that you’re exposed to some inspiring and great people, doing remarkable things. I happened to stumble across a bearded man doing great things alongside his mate and I’ve been moved by the work they’re doing. Marcus Crook and Nick Pearce are the founders of Homeless of Melbourne and are breaking the stigma behind the issue of homelessness one story at a time.
“Homeless of Melbourne shares the stories of people that are living without a permanent home to raise awareness of this local issue. We sit, chat and listen to people we find on the streets as they speak freely, with the aim of providing an understanding and insight into each individual person and their circumstances” says Marcus and Nick.
Founded in August 2014, Homeless of Melbourne (HoM) is an organisation that works to generate community awareness of homelessness and to change attitudes towards this local issue. Its principle activity is profiling homeless people and sharing their personal stories with the wider community through social media platforms.
The idea of profiling and sharing stories of Melbourne’s homeless was born when freelance photographer Marcus Crook began blogging his conversations with people he met on the streets. In 2014, whilst working at a clothing store in the city, Marcus would often spend his lunchtime break walking around Melbourne and chatting to people living on the streets.
Motivated by nothing other than curiosity and compassion, he would sit, chat, and listen to those he met, to gain an insight into their lives. When he had his camera with him, he would also take a portrait photo of those he spoke to, with their consent.
Time and time again, Marcus was taken aback by the stories that he heard. It soon became apparent to him that the majority of homeless people were nothing more than victims of circumstances who had fallen through cracks in our society’s safety nets. His preconceived notions of homelessness were slowly dissolved, and ingrained stereotypes broken.
Realising the power of an individual’s story, he decided that he would share them online, with the hope of changing other people’s attitudes in the same way that he had been changed by the stories.
The simplicity and power of the idea took off. Almost a year on from its modest beginnings, the Homeless of Melbourne facebook page has over 14,000 likes, and posts are regularly received by an audience of over 100,000 people. The team and the organisation continues to expand and develop daily with the outpouring of community support that the page generates. A registered charity, Homeless of Melbourne Inc. now has a fundraising licence in Victoria and is working towards creating a pop-up clothing store in Melbourne’s CBD.
I spent time going over their Facebook page, reading the stories and seeing the faces of the people who we walk past every day, and couldn’t help but think what both Marcus and Nick are doing is a step in the right direction. They are about to launch a grass roots project called HoMie, and I sat down with Marcus to find out more.
HoMie is a new project you’re both launching. What is HoMie?
‘HoMie’ is a 3 month pop-up clothing store like no other, coming to Melbourne in 2015. HoMie stocks awesome, first-hand clothes by local Melbourne designers. It’s also a place where homeless people can come to receive free clothing, food, care-packages, and educational workshops focused on increasing their employability.
Funds raised will be spent on rent of a street-front location in Melbourne’s CBD. Additional money raised will go towards other start-up costs, like furnishing, stock, and interior design. Homeless artists, labourers, and designers will be used wherever possible in the creation of HoMie, to channel money raised into the homeless community.
Donate to the campaign today. We need your help no matter how big or small.
What is the biggest misconception that you find society projects on the homeless community?
The biggest misconception of homeless people is that they’re just using drugs and alcohol and is by far the worst misunderstanding we’ve seen so far. Almost all of the people we have spoken with, this is not the case at all, and are more so victims of circumstance. We have found that people are warming to our stories online because it breaks down all the misconceptions held about a homeless person and shows them for who they truly are.
Also it’s funny that if a homeless person has a drink it’s frowned upon, but the majority of our population go out on the weekends and binge drink and do drugs.
What can the general public do to make a difference?
The common theme we have had come through to us while speaking to people in this situation is that they just want to be recognised as human beings, and for people to not just throw them into the stereotype/category of ‘homeless’. Stopping and saying hello is a good start, finding out individual wants and needs is also important.
We are receiving messages daily from people wanting to volunteer, donate clothing, food or even money which is very encouraging. We’ve found so many people WANT to help, but don’t know exactly how or where to go. Hopefully we can attain a space for this type of interaction, to be a place where everyone can feel welcome.
If you can help in any way, please use our contact form and we will get in touch with Marcus and Nick. Also, watching this space.