Staff and volunteers at Birmingham’s homelessness support service, SIFA Fireside, were recently surprised with a handmade “Thank you” by one of their long-standing clients. The elaborate art display features both a Polish side and an English side, alongside Union Flags, the SIFA Fireside logo and the days of the week that their Support Centre is open.
Speaking Polish, “B” told one of our team; “I was homeless for a couple of years, so I built an encampment by the canal but during the pandemic it was taken from me – I had lived there for 2 years but was asked to leave. I was given accommodation instead though.”
Since being accommodated, B presents less often at SIFA Fireside than he did before the pandemic, but the support he received from the homelessness charity left a big impression on him. So much so that he decided to create this handmade display and deliver it on his push bike to express his gratitude.
A personal note written in both Polish and English reads;
“To the founders, managers, and employees who take care of people from different parts of the globe, thank you for the effort and work you put into these individuals.”
All of the materials were found discarded on the street. “I started working during the Commonwealth Games and the King’s Coronation,” said B. “I could work on it in peace once I moved into my accommodation – I had time to cut things out and glue them together. Whenever I found anything in the street or in a bin that was still good to use, I would collect it.”
B originates from Wrocław, which is a detail he was eager to include in his work. He found the opportunity next to an old shop, where someone had discarded a selection of old calendars and maps. B used these to create a collage of sorts, showing his journey from Wrocław to Birmingham.
“I like supporting and being part of this community… and I wanted to give something back to show my gratitude to SIFA Fireside,” B said.
SIFA Fireside staff and volunteers were truly moved by the gesture from B and impressed by his handiwork and attention to detail, especially through such challenging circumstances. The art display now has its pride of place in the frontline staff office where it can be seen every day. A member of the team said, “It’s a brilliant expression of gratitude that bowled us over. It can be a challenging job but seeing our clients flourish like this makes it all worthwhile.”