A ‘Living Library’ event took place in Brighton on 3rd July 2019, the first ever Multiple Disadvantage Day, which attendees described as inspiring and humbling. Members of the public were able to hear first-hand the stories of Fulfilling Lives staff and volunteers with experience of multiple disadvantage including mental ill health, addictions, domestic abuse, homelessness and prison. In the Living Library, real people rather than books were ‘borrowed’ by attendees for up to 15 minutes, creating a space for conversations that challenged stereotypes and stigma. Eric, a member of the public who spoke with three of the ‘books’ from the living library said:
The experience was fantastically interesting and also quite emotional for me. The people I spoke to all had troubled childhoods, and I had a troubled childhood too, but they all used their life experiences to help strangers, and I was very impressed with that.
Multiple Disadvantage Day has been developed by 12 national partnerships which deliver the Fulfilling Lives Programme. The Fulfilling Lives South East partnership, which is led by Brighton Housing Trust (BHT), with partners Equinox and Oasis Project, organised the successful Living Library event in Brighton. A series of coordinated events were held across England on 3rd July to mark the day and promote the #seethefullpicture campaign. The Project Lead for the Fulfilling Lives South East partnership, Jo Rogers, said:
We were delighted that the Living Library was such a positive experience for participants and attendees alike. The event empowered our volunteer ‘books’ to challenge the negative labels that have been attached to them and encouraged the public to see beyond the problems and recognise the complexity of people’s stories.
The campaign aims to reduce the stigma experienced by some of the most disadvantaged and forgotten about people in our society – to find out more and to read true stories from clients who have been helped by the Fulfilling Lives programme, please visit: www.multipledisadvantageday.org