Justine Compton of the Garden Court Chambers Housing Team advised on homelessness law for the film scripts.
Fully Focused Productions has launched two powerful short films combining law and drama to highlight legal rights on homelessness.
The films, commissioned by the Legal Education Foundation, were made with young people from the charity Centrepoint who have experiences of homelessness.
The first film, ‘Nadia’, follows schoolgirl Nadia (Rosa Coduri) as she is kicked out of home by her mum (cameo role by Denise Gough) and has nobody to turn to, until her Head of Year Mr Green (Richie Campbell) discovers her sleeping rough on a bench and uses his own experience of homelessness to guide her through the system to get help.
The second film, ‘Eviction’, looks at how young people struggle to stay afloat in the private rented sector – particularly when they don’t know their rights. James (Kayode Ewumi) is guided by an old friend from his hostel days played by Natalie Gumede as he faces down a dodgy estate agent (David Vujanic) scamming him and prevents a rogue landlord from evicting him.
Research from Centrepoint Freedom of Information requests to local authorities found 150,000 young people had approached their local council for housing help because they were homeless or at risk of homelessness. And, according to City Hall’s own data, in London in 2010 330 young people were recorded as sleeping rough - a number that has more than doubled, rising to 880, by 2016.
Fully Focused are a non-profit film production service. It is a young person-led organisation, and gives 16-25-year-old young people from London’s most deprived boroughs a chance to get involved in all aspects of its work.
Centrepoint is the leading charity for homeless young people aged 16-25, supporting over 9,000 homeless young people a year in London and the North of England.
One of these young people, Laura Lartey, is a former Centrepoint young person and was instrumental in helping shape the story and script and appeared in ‘Nadia’.
Laura Lartey, young former Centrepoint hostel resident, said:
“Being homeless at a young age you tend to not know your rights nor the system. Being an outsider to benefits and the council palava I was unaware of the help that I was entitled to. It was a long struggle that I had to overcome in order to be stable as I had no knowledge that I could seek help from councils. Joining this project and having input in the filming process was an amazing experience not only did I get the chance to act within the short film, help with the script and work behind the scenes. But I realised that this could be a great way of getting the message out to other young people like myself who were being taken for a ride from our lack of knowledge, or sofa surfing for years because we didn't know what's out there. Its also a great way to make peer groups and teachers aware of the signs so more can be done. This isn't just a film about homelessness its a open door for those who feel trapped, lost and need some help.”
Teddy Nygh, Fully Focused’s Creative Director, said:
“In the times that we live, a film like this can hopefully offer vital support to those who need it most. Taking on the challenge of achieving this by combining law, information and drama to create a powerful film was a brilliant journey to embark on."