Government policies and the power of big businesses have led to a massive increase in the number of households evicted from their homes. Here, Claire O’Neill discusses one such example, and the attempts of Daisy Hudson to document her family’s experiences.
On 12th July 2013, the Hudson family became homeless. They were evicted when their landlord, a multi-national supermarket, decided to sell their Epping home of 13 years. Unable to afford alternative local accommodation, they declared themselves officially homeless to the council. In doing so they represent part of the 26% increase in the number of people approaching their council as homeless in the past four years. So, Daisy the eldest daughter, decided to pick up a camera and film their lives from the moment they were evicted to the moment they were eventually re-homed.
There are currently estimated to be 45,000 families who are displaced in the UK, tucked away in bedsits, half way houses and temporary accommodation. In the past year alone, 40,000 familes have been evicted. Unable to keep up with rocketing housing prices and cost of living, these families are forced to put their well-being into the hands of what has become, quite frankly, an over-stretched and ineffective social housing system.
The rate at which people are losing their homes is not being matched by affordable housing, with the gulf in between ever-growing. Not only swallowing those individuals who we might ‘safely’ bracket as fallen through the cracks in what could be considered a generally well-oiled society (another issue in itself), but a gulf growing so big that we are letting down whole communities. This is all the more shocking when considering that, across the UK there are “1.5 million empty commercial and residential buildings”. When you delve into the statistics – and you don’t have to go far – the image painted of the UK has an almost Dickensian air, with flavourings of the Great Depression as echoed in Harry Leslie Smith’s book out last year – a must read-, or Ken Loach’s renowned film, Cathy Come Home.
The Hudsons story is typical of those in their situation. Following their eviction was a long 15 months: countless correspondences with the council, multiple changes of temporary accommodation and having to deal with the physical and psychological impacts of three women living in a confined space. As well as this, the youngest, a teenage girl, was entering the extremely important and difficult stages of education and growth, their mother was going through menopause and depression and as a family they had to deal with the emotional trauma of feeling ultimately powerless to change their own situation due to the flawed system of housing.
Making the film: taking control
With the fate of the family home out of their control, filming a documentary started out as a coping mechanism for the family – a productive and positive step when their efforts elsewhere were futile.
HALF WAY documents the family desperately trying to keep each other afloat, cracking jokes in the dark times and using the camera to defuse tension. Gradually, the tolls of continual unsettlement become almost overwhelming, and the camera’s position comes into conflict. Ultimately, HALF WAY documents an intimate and entirely unique insight into the whole process.
HALF WAY aims to increase the profile of the current housing problem in both the minds of the general public and also, in this election year, those with political standings and aspirations – because ultimately these are the people who have the power to do something.
For an exclusive trailer of the film, further information about HALF WAY and how to donate to the project (we are currently 1 day away from finishing our funding campaign in which we hope to raise £10,000), please go to our Indiegogo campaign:
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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