Creative Luton project highlights cost-of-living stories – “supporting one another with compassion"
A new project about foodbank stigma and the Cost-of-Living Crisis is coming to Luton.
Trolley Tales will be free to view on Feast Street in the Mall on October 26 and 27 from 10am to 4pm. The project was produced by Shemiza Rashid, who worked with Luton people to capture their unique perspective and display it on food tins.
To gather the stories, Shemiza visited Hockwell Ring Community Centre, Generously Blessed Food Bank and the St Luke's Church Community Cafe. She believes that food banks and community cafes are a lifeline for everyone.
She said: “Using the service of food banks and soup kitchens still has embarrassment and stigma associated with them. I wanted to be sensitive and honour the information given to me. I was amazed that everyone confidentially provided their narrative and were so supportive of the project.
"I honestly have felt such hope and love, energy, and understanding. It was so heartening to hear how our community is supporting one another with compassion and no judgement."
Shemiza decided to add audio to the Trolley Tales project through QR codes that can be scanned. She added: “It was important for the public to hear the voice of the participants. Hearing the actual voice of the person sharing their story gives it a layer of authenticity, and as an artist, I'm always looking at innovative ways to share narratives.
"I thought it would be an interesting immersive way to connect, entice, and inspire the general public and add an unexpected dimension to something that is so part of our lives; Shopping. We all have a personal Trolley Tale.”
The Trolley Tales project resonated with Revoluton Arts, who gave Shemiza the opportunity to become one of four Revoluton Arts associate producers. Shemiza said: "Community stories and our lived experiences are the core of my work. Exploring the experience of the living crisis post-pandemic and themes of inequality is an area that I feel is critical to highlight and that I am passionate about.”
Lindsey Pugh, creative director at Revoluton Arts, said: “The role of the Associates is to engage deeply with communities and produce creative projects that are relevant to them and their everyday lives.
"Shemiza’s proposal during last year’s recruitment really moved the decision panel. Her idea to connect with Luton’s communities in response to the cost-of-living crisis felt so vital at a time when people are struggling with everyday needs, not for life’s luxuries but for everyday essentials.”
She added: “The delivery of Trolley Tales and the conversations it provokes will help us to shape activities that follow. Trolley Tales has brought people together through creativity and expression, and to connect in ways so they don’t feel alone. Shemiza has connected with people in the community who are going above and beyond to help others – like the people giving time and dedication to running the food banks.
“The power is in sharing narratives to bring positive change for the future."