Mainstream media has a tendency to portray a stereotype of homeless people. You know the one - it's a guy sleeping out on the street, probably with a drug addiction or mental illness. But there's a national epidemic of "hidden homelessness" - the type that doesn't fit the media stereotype. Where it could even be your colleague sitting at the desk next to you...
Introducing Daisy-May Hudson, a film producer at the globally renowned media group VICE, who records her family’s loss of their home and struggle to find somewhere to live – to show it can happen to anyone.
For 13 years, Daisy, her mum and younger sister lived in a small house they rented in East London. Until one day, their corporate landlord decided to sell off all their small assets - which included Daisy's family home. And an eviction notice arrived.
They desperately started searching for a new house to move into, but rental prices everywhere had skyrocketed far beyond their means.
“We’d always considered ourselves ‘a normal family’, then suddenly we had to get our heads around the fact that we were homeless, and it came as a big shock,” Daisy explains.
The council accepted the family as homeless, and moved them into a hostel nearby in a former army barracks. With three of them crammed into two small rooms, and corridors lined with CCTV cameras, it was a frightening departure from the regular family life they'd known prior to this point.
Hidden homelessness is the temporary, timeless purgatory between having nowhere to live and waiting for a council house.
As Daisy began to experience it for herself, she did the one thing she could think of to regain a feeling of control in the situation. She started to film.
The end result is a feature-length documentary called Half Way, where she tells her personal story documenting her own family’s fight to retain their dignity while waiting for council rehousing.
Filmed over 1 year, it shows the emotions, struggles and shocking twists in their journey to get into council housing.
"We wanted the world to see how badly we were spoken to by the council, from the dismissive and superior tone on the phone, to careless letters telling us they were going to “discharge their duty” to house us because we had supposedly made ourselves “intentionally homeless”."
"We all dealt with it in different ways. I was trying to find a job, but there was no internet in the hostel, so I’d spend hours in the library online trying to fight the post-university blues, then leave for an internship or job, putting on a smiley face and pretending to the outside world I wasn’t living in a hostel,” Daisy says. “I was more worried about supporting my mum and sister. When this happened, my mum blamed herself, analysing every decision she’d ever made. It feels like prison in a hostel – you just have so much time to sit and think, so that played a lot on her mental health.”
Daisy’s sister was 13 at the time and hid the fact she was homeless from her classmates. The fact the hostel was near their original home meant she was able to stay in the same school. “She told no one. My sister was the bravest of us all, she kept a straight face and carried on throughout the whole experience,” says Daisy.
Half Way shines a bright light on Britain's growing hidden homelessness epidemic, and will take you on a journey of emotions as you watch Daisy and her family go through this experience together.
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