Homes For Cathy
Cathy Come Home
Showroom Screening, 25th October 2016
Over the next few months, SYHA will be facilitating a number of inspiring events, as part of the ‘Homes for Cathy’ campaign; a campaign that sees a group of twenty housing associations across the country come together, to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of ‘Cathy Come Home’. We want to re-examine the important themes within Ken Loach’s radical film, encouraging engagement, and asking the question “Where would Cathy and her family be today?”
SYHA have always been interested in Cathy’s message – When the film first came out our founder, John Belcher, was so inspired that he set up the then named Sheffield Family Association to support young homeless families. So now, 50 years on, we want others to see Cathy’s story, and feel encouraged to act – Just like John did. We are proud of our connection to the film, and think it’s important that its legacy should continue; we find ourselves now in the midst of another housing crisis, with ever dwindling stocks of housing and ever growing numbers of homeless people. Despite housing associations and others building hundreds of thousands of homes over the last 50 years, the problem of homelessness has not gone away. Rents are continuing to rise and last Christmas over 100,000 children were in temporary accommodation.
When Cathy was first released, there was public outcry about the problem of homelessness. We want to see this reaction repeated again, to change the suspicious way in which society perceives the homeless, and to stop allowing public services and social policies to be shaped by this suspicion. In November and beyond, SYHA will be continuing to help to raise the profile of the films 50th anniversary by running events, and sharing success stories of what we do to help vulnerable and homeless people. However at the same time, we hope to highlight the extent of homelessness today, and show that we urgently need more affordable homes to meet what is an ever growing demand. It’s time for reformation, and the ‘Homes for Cathy’ group wants to help to lead the way.
The first event that kicked off our Sheffield Cathy Season was a screening of the film at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield on the 25th of October. The Showroom is a wonderful local venue, and we felt that this event got the Sheffield campaign off to a great start; Although Cathy’s story is a sad one, it is also an important one. With ‘I, Daniel Blake’ showing on the same day, it was brilliant to see audiences flocking to attend two Ken Loach films, set 50 years apart, but both encouraging social change and reflecting deep rooted problems that exist within our society.
The screening was followed by a Q&A and a panel discussion; the panel included Sheffield Cabinet Member for Housing Jayne Dunn, SYHA Chief Executive Tony Stacey, Shauna Stubbs, a peer mentor from the Sheffield Charity Roundabout, CEO of the Sheffield charity Roundabout Ben Keegan. It was chaired by Joan Parsons, Senior Programmer at the Showroom. We had a lively debate, covering topics such as Sheffield’s determination as a city to combat homelessness, and society’s perception of the homeless. We also talked about the homelessness reduction bill, and what can be achieved at a grassroots level. You can watch the Q&A in full here.
We received a lot of excellent feedback after the event and had an interesting audience in attendance; a mixture of housing professionals, SYHA employees and customers, charity workers and academics. Although a number of people attending the screening had seen ‘Cathy Come Home’ before, several hadn’t – what was remarkable was the general consensus that the events in the film remained strikingly relevant today. SYHA, as well as representatives from charities Roundabout, the Archer Project and Crisis all set up stalls outside the cinema screen, so audience members could sign up to volunteer, donate and find about the different opportunities available to them; we wanted the film to be a call to action.
There will be a number of other events taking place as part of the Cathy season. As part of the campaign, we’ll also be publishing more case studies and blogs, which we’d like your help with. If you know of any tenants who were housed in the 1960s/70s and who’ve had children/grandchildren, we’d love to hear from them. We’re particularly looking to tell an intergenerational story of how families have thrived because they were housed by us or another housing association 50 years ago. We also want to hear from any staff members or your relatives who were working in housing or were housed in the ‘Cathy Come Home’ era.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a ‘Cathy Come Home’ story to share, or tweet us at @HomesforCathySY.
Grace Darbyshire, Communications Co-ordinator at SYHA