The UK’s leading homelessness theatre company Cardboard Citizens – supported by local and national charities including Crisis, Shelter Scotland, Cyrenians and The Museum of Homelessness – have launched Citizens Do, a campaign to challenge Edinburgh Fringe audiences to no longer be bystanders to homelessness.
The campaign calls on Fringe audiences to take a series simple actions to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh and across Scotland. Participants who sign up to support Citizens Do will receive three daily actions ranging from the personal to the political, from buying a homelessness person a cup of tea, to signing a petition to call for the creation of a formal, unified approach to recording homeless deaths in Scotland.
Citizens Do runs alongside Bystanders, a new production at the Fringe by Cardboard Citizens which tells the true-life stories around homeless lives and deaths and the causes of both. After last year’s revelations by The Bureau for Investigative Journalism on the largely unreported and unrecorded scale of homeless deaths in the UK – with the staggering reality of 800 homeless men and women having died between October 2017 and March 2019 – Bystanders gives those unheard voices the stage in true-life stories told with authenticity, wit and sadness.
The combined objective of Bystanders and the Citizens Do campaign is to challenge audiences to no longer see homeless people as invisible, or consider homelessness as an inevitable problem. Audiences are called on to take direct action collectively to improve the lives of homeless people, to be more than just a bystander.
Michael Chandler, Director of Social Change, Cardboard Citizens, said: “Through signing up to Citizens Do, we hope our audiences will go out and make a difference in Edinburgh at what can be a challenging time of year in the city. We hope that this campaign can inspire Fringe audiences to take small, achievable actions to improve the lives of some of Edinburgh’s most vulnerable residents, and perhaps be inspired to make a change in the cities and towns where they live.”
Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians, said: “Cardboard Citizens do amazing work raising awareness of the tough realities of homelessness through their fantastic productions, with Bystanders promising to be an unmissable show this summer.
We’re delighted that they’re using this opportunity and the considerable platform provided by the Fringe to give audiences a means to help those affected by homelessness. Join us by signing up to the Citizens Do Campaign and help make a real and lasting difference.”
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, Crisis, said: “When some people are struggling, it has an impact on our whole society – and when people are dying because of homelessness, we know things have to change. That’s why it’s imperative that we all work together to end homelessness for good. The Citizens Do campaign inspires us all to take action – whether that’s stopping for a chat with someone sleeping rough and offering to buy them a coffee or sandwich, or tackling the root causes of homelessness. We know that homelessness isn’t inevitable – and together, we can end it once and for all.”
Citizens Do is live now and participants can sign up via www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk/CitizensDo
The Fringe campaign is a development of an award-winning campaign launched by Cardboard Citizens at Soho Theatre, in which audience members and others sign up to receive a series of simple actions to improve the lives of homeless people. The first iteration of Citizens Do won the 2019 Best Digital Campaign award at the National Campaigner Awards, given by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation.
Bystanders runs from 31st July – 25th August, 11:30am, Summerhall (Tech Cube 0), tickets via www.edfringe.com