Homelessness is closer than we think. It’s not something that affects an unfortunate few, it’s a potential outcome for so many of us. This is even more true when you consider the cost of living crisis that we’re experiencing. The risk of homelessness is even greater, unless steps are put in place to prevent this. As well as reaching out to people who are already experiencing homelessness, York Road Project wants to also focus on prevention. In particular, the re-opening of their prevention day centre ‘The Prop’ is a huge step to ending homelessness in woking.
Reaching people early, identifying their risks and putting steps in place is a way to help people before they ever have to face homelessness or rough sleeping. However, part of this important work is marking people aware of how important prevention is. This could be potential service users or those who are looking to support homeless people. Changing the way people think of tackling homelessness will be crucial if the preventative approach is going to work. This is rooted in a deeper understanding of how homelessness happens and the various ways in which people can find themselves in this situation.
As part of this work, York Road Project wanted to create an asset that could be used to raise awareness at a time when people are thinking of others even more than usual; Christmas. They asked us to create a short, powerful animation that would help people to understand how vital prevention is.
First off, we needed to come up with a story that would really get to the heart of the issue. We were concerned that even at a time when people are feeling more charitable, they might not have too much time to dedicate to watching this film. If we lost them before the end of the film then the impact would be completely minimised. The narrative we came up with was a simple one; we get them thinking the film is about the cost of living crisis and then bring homelessness in right at the end.
The logic was that if we hook people in with an issue that they might be faced with then we could fully engage them. Essentially, the plan was to make them the hero of the story until the reveal at the end. Then, when we did bring homelessness and prevention into the film right at the end, the shock would hopefully be enough to get people to sit up and take notice.
We were feeling confident about this approach from a story point of view. However, we wanted to make sure that the visuals matched. We knew that we weren’t going to have many scenes, so we didn’t have too many opportunities to create striking imagery. We settled on a visual style that was soft and illustrative. Each scene would be recognisably Christmassy, with a hint of the sinister in the form of elements relating to the cost of living. The style was completed by having the whole film in first person POV shots. The aim with this was to get the audience imagining they were in these situations and to maximise the emotional impact of the story.
The film that was created went on to be a central piece of marketing for the charity over the christmas period of 2022. However, this message doesn’t become any less relevant after Christmas. The plan is that this animation will be updated in the near future so that this important message can be shared year round.
"Our experience of working with NOTW is very positive, from the start they understood what we wanted to get out of the project and were empathetic to our cause. They guided us through the process with ease and we loved having them with us. They were honest in their approach and directed us with their knowledge on what would work best for the films we wanted to produce. The team are amazing, professional, compassionate and the films they produced for us really showcase who we are and we are really proud of them."