5,873 applications for homelessness assistance were filed in Glasgow in 2019. It is an 11% increase since the previous year, the largest in Scotland. I truly wanted to respond to facts with a story that stresses the human rights tragedy hiding behind the simple statistical assessment.
That is why I decided to make a 4-minute long video report for the Glasgow Guardian’s social media channels: to capture the nightly attempts of shelter volunteers and staff to address the crisis. In a system where the rights to housing, education, decent standards of living, and health assistance are constantly violated, the GCM’s Winter Night Shelter and its guests stood out for embracing the challenge as one compact group in the middle of Storm Dennis. Several guests were irregular migrants or asylum seekers with nowhere to go due to delays in the application process.
Gaining insights into the lives of vulnerable guests men required an ethical effort to get their trust and not exploit their fragility for the sake of questioning. At the same time, I encouraged operators to recount their experiences, from Graham’s account of upset guests to Elyse’s moving description of a former addict’s success story. I followed their journeys in both providing and receiving services that constitute basic rights but are not always guaranteed in an unequal city such as Glasgow.
I like to believe that the report shows how everyone, from unpaid contributors to the City Council’s staff at the Shelter, makes an effort to improve the lives of individuals whose main fault was to have sufficient support at the time – and the impact that has had on their rights and security.
Talking to Glasgow’s homeless was my first video contribution as the first ever Multimedia Editor for my university newspaper. It tripled the number of views from previous attempts at producing Glasgow Guardian content in a format different from text. Moreover, it was the first piece of reporting on the ground ever produced by the paper and it relied on a strong human rights perspective. The coverage usually offered by the paper focuses on issues pertaining to the student community. The success of the report matters as it brings attention to a local human rights crisis outside the university bubble.
Our Facebook upload obtained 1,507 views and 40 reactions, and was shared 15 times. On YouTube, it was viewed 459 times. Attesting to its focus and sensitivity, in October 2020 the report received the Student Publication Award for Best Human Rights Story, awarded by EachOther UK. Dr. Sarah Wishart presented the award with the following comment: “Lucia Posteraro’s Talking to Glasgow’s Homeless was an incredibly strong piece of video work. Not only did Lucia put these people at the heart of the piece – she was also deeply considerate of those people, and that is key to the way that human stories can be made to engage with different kinds of audiences.”