The elusive street artist known as Banksy has installed a new moving artwork in the lead up to Christmas. This new piece is meant to draw attention to homelessness and the particularly hard time of year that it is for people to be sleeping rough.
Banksy has left their mark on the city of Birmingham in the UK, by revealing a new art piece that consists of two of Santa Claus’ reindeer spray-painted onto a wall of a starry night background, and are seemingly attached to a public bench, which takes on the illusion of a sleigh.
According to the Instagram video of the work, Banksy’s team filmed a man named Ryan, laying down on the bench dressed in a hooded jacket and leaning on what looks like a couple bags of items. Then something lovely happened.
As the post read, “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter — without him ever asking for anything.”
It’s still not clear if Ryan was actually sleeping rough, or if he was a part of Banksy’s art team, regardless the message was pretty hard to miss.
As of writing, this post has been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
Banksy’s artwork serves as a reminder to people just how many of their fellow human beings find themselves in a state of homelessness – something that is particularly rough during the colder months of the year with the holidays.
According to Crisis, the UK national charity for homeless people, there is no national figure to determine exactly how many people are currently finding themselves homeless throughout the UK. But to give you somewhat of an idea of just how much of a crisis it is, it’s reported that on any given night in 2017, about 4,751 people slept rough across England.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics is in agreement, stating that producing a UK-wide figure for the number of people or households who are homeless is not currently possible because of differences in data collection. However, according to an independent study commissioned by Crisis, which has been dubbed The Homelessness Monitor, there has been rapid growth in rough sleeping in England since 2010.
According to a report by UK housing charity Shelter, there are currently 135,000 children who are either homeless or living in temporary accommodation across Britain – something that has been the highest number they’ve seen in 12 years!
This holiday season for those of us fortunate to have a roof over our heads, let us not forget to be grateful for what we have, and share that gratitude with those less fortunate.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.