Inspirational artwork unveiled at homeless centre

EYE-catching artwork has been installed at the Inverclyde Centre as part of a project inspired by local residents.

Famous Scottish artist Tragic O’Hara worked directly with service users and staff to create two colourful murals that have been given pride of place at the Dalrymple Street building.

The Inverclyde Housing Options and Homelessness Advice Service, which brings together a range of council/health and social care partnership (HSCP) services to support people experiencing housing issues, commissioned some artwork to help brighten up the communal residents’ lounge.

With assistance from local group RIG Arts, artist Tragic agreed to get involved and a workshop was organised involving four service users with a keen interest in art, staff and a representative from community care forum Your Voice to develop a theme. 

Inverclyde Centre mural
Inverclyde Centre mural. From left, Gayle McQueen, Alastair Jannetts, Martita Dunn, Beth McLeod, Cllr Robert Moran, Neil McMillan, and Tragic O’Hara.

Service users were encouraged to share their experiences of homelessness, knowledge of the local area, and their hopes and fears for the futures and that led to two murals being created illustrating the journey from dark times through to a brighter future.

Councillor Robert Moran, chair of the Inverclyde Integration Joint Board (IJB) – the organisation that oversees local health and social care functions delegated to it by the council/health board and delivered by the HSCP, was on hand to help unveil the artwork.

Cllr Moran said: “I’m impressed with the level of detail in these two striking pieces of art, which really help brighten up the communal lounge here at the Inverclyde Centre.

“It’s important we support but also listen to service users and it’s great that they have been directly involved in developing the murals.

“The murals capture the very essence of what the service which is offering a pathway from adversity to a brighter future.”

Inverclyde Centre mural.
Inverclyde Centre mural. From left, Neil McMillan, Martita Dunn, Beth McLeod, Tragic O’Hara, and Cllr Robert Moran.

At the workshop, service users spoke a lot about the River Clyde and many have family links to the shipyards and this was incorporated into the murals, which also tied in with the Inverclyde Centre starting out as The Inverclyde Sailors Centre in 1943.

Tragic, who has worked on several local projects including the metal jellyfish sculptures on the Greenock waterfront, said: “The workshop resulted in a lot of great ideas and conversations, enabling me to pull all this together to capture an inspiring and motivational piece of work.

“I’m delighted with the artwork and the feedback from service users already has been really positive.”

Alongside Cllr Moran and Tragic at the unveiling were service users Alastair Jannetts and Neil McMillan, Beth McLeod from RIG Arts, Martita Dunn from Your Voice, and Gayle McQueen, wellbeing coordinator with the Housing Options and Homelessness Advice Service.

The art project is one of a number of initiatives as part of the redesign of the service, which brought together a range of council/HSCP services and partner organisations under the one banner with the aim of early intervention and prevention of housing crisis occurring.

The successful redesign was recognised with six nominations at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Scottish Housing Awards earlier this year.

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