for Arts
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Combined Arts | London

Arts & Homelessness International

Arts & Homelessness International (AHI) is a charity working to bring positive change to people, projects and policy in homelessness through arts and creativity – helping people to thrive and not just survive.

AHI (formerly With One Voice) began in 2012, as a project under Streetwise Opera, with a showcase called ‘With One Voice’ at the London Cultural Olympiad. Three Hundred performers, who were homeless, came together to show the world their skills and achievements. This project was replicated in Brazil for Rio 2016 and subsequently evolved into a designated movement to bring together the arts and homelessness sectors across the world. This sector is relatively small and fragmented and AHI realised early on that bringing people together created shared learning, solidarity and a powerful voice.

The organisation works through advocacy, research, training and delivering projects with partners. The COVID-19  responses projects are highlighted here

Arts & Homelessness International

Arts & Homelessness International

Arts & Homelessness International

Arts & Homelessness International

Target Beneficiaries

Target beneficiaries include homeless communities and cultural organisations which support homeless communities. The COVID-19 project targeted the London Boroughs of Haringey and Wandsworth.

Arts & Homelessness International aims to connect together and strengthen the arts and homelessness community around the world, and to advocate for the role of the arts in the homeless community.

COVID-19  has resulted in further isolation for people who are facing homelessness. Creative projects are being used to mitigate boredom, loneliness and build well-being.  Arts and Homelessness International amplified the collaboration between Cardboard Citizens, The Reader and St Mungos in the UK to pilot ways to bring creative activities into hotels housing people who were sleeping rough in London. A simple “mobile library” was then set up as an initial step in this work, inspired by the work of the Reader to enable everyone to experience literature, as a tool to survive and live well.


Responses to COVID-19

Since the COVID-19 crisis began, AHI  have been finding ways of supporting the arts and homelessness community at this difficult time.

Work includes:

  • A real-time visual directory to map all the creative projects designed with and for people who are or have been homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Two monthly global video conferences to give people in the network a chance to get together remotely and talk about the challenges and opportunities they are facing during COVID-19.
  • Guidelines to support the community during COVID-19 – developed in collaboration with flagship venues: What can Cultural Spaces and their staff do to respond to COVID-19 for their homeless communities – With One Voice, Museum of Homelessness and Union Chapel, London.
  • Setting up a mobile library for people who are homeless during COVID-19 – With One Voice, Cardboard Citizens, The Reader and St Mungos, UK.
  • Setting up an arts programme in the Days Hotel in Coventry with Coventry City Council which became the biggest arts programme of any COVID hotel in UK, featured as best practice in an MHCLG funded Homeless Link report.
  • The London Arts and Homelessness Forum on-line to help people in the sector connect and share information and ideas.
  • Setting up ahead of schedule ART (Advocacy, Research and Training) Lab to develop and share innovative ideas in arts and homelessness particularly during COVID-19.

AHI worked with The Reader, Accumulate and Cardboard Citizens as well as London Authorities to share mobile library and guidelines for cultural spaces, distribute art packs, and deliver creative workshops for homeless communities in London during COVID-19 . Six workshops were planned with a celebration at the end and a legacy programme including signposting participants to other projects and planning for other projects in Haringey.


Arts & Homelessness International

AHI helped to create a methodology of the mobile library idea which led to 2,300 books and art packs being delivered across 16 sites in London to 800 homeless people and a further artistic collaboration between Haringey Borough Council and Accumulate in a temporary shelter in Haringey.

Across Wandsworth and Haringey:




Impact for People

Increased positivity, reduced boredom, reduced alcohol consumption, increased wellbeing, increased social contact, reduced anxiety, increased pride.

What have we learned about the role arts can play in supporting people who are homeless during COVID-19 ?:


Gulbenkian Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Co Creating Change, British Council, Haringey Council.