If you live and/or work in Birmingham you will know that homelessness is an ongoing issue. Earlier this year, TINKER TAYLOR produced a documentary called ‘Tackling Homelessness in Birmingham’, commissioned by Birmingham City Council. The documentary’s narrative is threaded by the testimonies of the ‘experts by experience’: people who once were homeless but have now managed to turn their lives around. Through their interviews, we come to understand how complex the issue is and what the reasons are behind someone ending up in this situation.
I worked closely on the documentary (although I was not involved in the interview process); enough to be affected by it. The documentary focuses also on what the citizens of Birmingham can do to help, perhaps through a donation, a report or simple act of kindness.
When TT started promoting the documentary, the whole thing hit a nerve for me. I really changed my perspective on homeless people and it urged me to help in any way I can.
You can watch our documentary here: https://tinkertaylor.tv/brumhomelessness/
Shortly after the documentary was released, I met Kevin World.
Kevin is a homeless man usually located around Birmingham city centre, between the Mailbox and New Street Station. Brummies commuting to the city centre would have met him at least once; it’s not easy to forget him, he is the kindest, friendliest guy you'll ever meet. He is also mad talented. I had noticed Kevin drawings passing by and was very intrigued as to what he was working on. His drawings of the Birmingham skyline really caught my attention: they were beautiful pieces of art.
A few months ago I saw Kevin in his usual spot, but this time, he was selling tote bags that he had personally sketched and designed. Kevin, with his undoubtedly friendly and approachable Brummie accent, explained that he co-founded a small business called The Bag Issue, a pun on the most famous Big Issue; together with Greg Wright, an IT consultant that provides him with the material. By purchasing one of these bags through a donation, you can help homeless people as well as reducing the use of plastic. I thought it was such a great idea and have purchased some myself.
The bags are a massive success in the City Centre and it’s great to see Kevin’s talent being recognised. If you are looking for a present to give your loved ones for Christmas, you can purchase the bags from Kevin himself, he’s usually located in Navigation Street or in the tunnel by the Mailbox; or buy them through his website: https://www.bagissue.org
Keep it up Kevin, Brum loves you! : )
Kevin said: “For years I've been putting on a mask and smiling but there's been a lot of tears behind that mask, now drawing is helping me interact with people. “It passes the time away because a lot of people walk past and you do feel pretty invisible.” His bag selling business is called The Bag Issue, a pun on The Big Issue magazine which is also sold by street vendors.