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Connecting with Brazil


Brazilian artist Heider Ouveira, Homelessness activist Maralice dos Santos from the Rio Homeless People's Movement and Matt Peacock from Streetwise Opera at the British Council.

It is inspiring to meet people who are fighting the same cause as yourselves: dignity and social recognition for people affected by homelessness are shared goals in Rio de Janeiro as much as in London we found out today. Some facts were shocking: we found out that more than 15,000 people sleeping rough in Sáo Paulo according to Rafael da Silva, a municipal government official visiting in London today (in London the number is 2,500). At the British Council, in London, Cafe Art today met a group of 14 Brazilians from Sáo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are here to focus on shared strategies, fighting homelessness through art as part of With One Voice. The Brazilian group is made up of a diverse group including of artists who have been homeless and set up the grass roots Movimento da Populaçao de Rua (Homeless People's Movement), The People's Palace to representatives from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo city councils. Organised by the UK's own Streetwise Opera who were instrumental in raising awareness of homelessness in London during the 2012 Olympics, the other UK organisations connecting this week include The Choir With No NameCrisis, Cardboard Citizens, Open Cinema and of course Cafe Art. Today the group spoke about what we were going to achieve from the visit. The Brazilians explained that they were breaking new ground by involving such a diverse group from their country. It would have been unheard of 20 years ago to talk about the issue of homelessness in such a forum and everyone agreed that they were committed to learn as much as they could so they could take new ideas back to Brazil. Because Rio will be hosting the Olympics in 2016 the success of Streetwise Opera's 2012 cultural activities are a model they will be looking at, as well as new projects such as Cafe Art which attracted a lot of interest! Tomorrow is a huge event at City Hall involving UK charities and municipal politicians from London and Rio, and on Friday Cafe Art will host the group, starting with a talk about the My London photo project at the Qbic Hotel where they are staying and finishing at the With One Voice joint exhibition at the Phoenix Blend Cafe. (The exhibition at Phoenix Blend is up for 2 weeks at 29 Bell Lane, near Spitalfields Market. There are 6 pieces from London and 6 from Brazil)