'We started the week with a handshake and we end with an embrace'

I looked around the room and smiled. I was surrounded by people who had met just one week ago and now I saw friendships and the beginnings of a movement. The energy was tangible; a huge table of people from across the world who had bonded over a common goal. We were part of a movement and one step closer to creating a global network of organisations all with the same mission; to use arts to help people who have experienced homelessness. Ultimately, we asked, could we one day eradicate homelessness? After a week of sharing our knowledge and experience, what would our Brazilian friends be taking back to Rio and Sao Paulo? It was time for final thoughts and reflections…

‘When we spoke about this exchange, you told me you wanted to build a movement, to exchange ideas and to create a network.’ Matt Peacock, Streetwise Opera

Everyone thought back to their week’s experience and shared what they had taken from the trip; from Ricardo visiting the CWNN rehearsal and teaching them Portuguese, to the panellists who spoke so passionately at City Hall and to David, a Café Arts artist who proudly presented the Dept Major of Rio with framed artwork titled ‘Unity’ which depicted exactly what this exchange was about.

‘We MUST learn and put these things into actions.’

The conversation got quite passionate as everyone wanted to take these learnings into real action. Luckily there was an agreement in the areas people had valued and would take away:

  • The friendships created will be treasured
  • The network that’s being built is invaluable
  • To realise you are surrounded by people with common goals and beliefs is motivating
  • To share practical ideas has been vital – learning how these organisations work and their methodologies

There was a suggestion that we could start a blog, a world platform to share our knowledge with every person and nation that wants be a part of this. The Royal Photography Society had said they would support a project similar to café Arts in Rio, just one of many actions that would be taken from this week. The British Council spoke of their hope to continue this exchange with Tokyo 2020 and every Olympic host thereafter. It was felt this could be a regular feature of not only the Olympics, but other global events. This makes the idea of creating an International Global Network not so farfetched. This week has shown there is

Matt Peacock rounded things up articulately, with an understanding of the next stages. ‘This comes down to two things – human life and art. We will make a proposal of the next stages but this, this is the beginning.’