Shelter’s new ad tells the story of being homeless at Christmas through a child’s eyes
Following up on last year’s award-winning appeal The Drive, Brave Face focuses on the fact that 119,500 children will be without a home this winter.
- 2 November 2022
- Liz Gorny
In 2021, Shelter’s powerful Christmas appeal titled The Drive won Fundraising Campaign of the Year at the Third Sector Awards. For those that didn’t see it, The Drive told an emotional but balanced story of a family spending Christmas in a car. This year the housing and homelessness charity has turned to London-based social purpose creative agency Don’t Panic to bring to life the reality of homelessness from a child’s perspective. In particular, the appeal focuses on the fact that 119,500 children will be without a home this winter, highlighting the true-to-life conditions many face while in temporary accommodation.
Titled Brave Face, the film is produced in collaboration with Academy, directed by Si&Ad and written by Rick Dodds; Electric Theatre Company worked on post production. It opens on eight-year-old Jayden as he faces daily challenges and setbacks at school, like a low score on his homework. In each instance, Jayden responds by smiling – a bathroom scene even shows Jayden practising his smile for future use. The film then follows Jayden and his mum as they arrive at the temporary shelter in which they’ll be spending Christmas, with Jayden responding to this news with another smile. The appeal concludes with the line: “No child should have to put on a brave face but without a home, over 119,500 children do.”
In sensitively representing the reality of this situation, Don’t Panic creative partner Rick Dodds explains how important honesty was to the process. “We didn’t want to exaggerate or inflate a single element of his reality.” Don’t Panic worked closely with Shelter to ensure the accuracy of the temporary accommodation shown. “From the corridor and the stressed neighbours, to the sole bed that child and parent would have to share. Every detail was fact checked to ensure it was as real a depiction as possible,” says Rick. “Having spent an afternoon shooting in this location, I can honestly say how heartbreaking and devastating it is that anyone, especially a child, will be spending a Christmas in such a place.”
“With many families hit hard by the cost of living crisis, the country is experiencing a housing emergency with homelessness on the rise,” Claire Whitney, head of supporter acquisition at Shelter, outlines. “Life in temporary accommodation is full of uncertainty and anxiety. Families are commonly moved from one accommodation to another with very little notice, with children’s lives and education regularly disrupted and no place to really call home. Yet despite this, day after day we see the resilience of parents, teenagers and young children.” Claire states, “This is what we’re depicting in this film.”
From 1 November, Brave Face will be published across Shelter’s social media platforms; it will run on TV from the same date.
GalleryDon’t Panic: Shelter, Brave Face, directed by Si&Ad, written by Rick Dodds, produced with Academy (Copyright © Shelter, 2022)
Don’t Panic: Shelter, Brave Face, directed by Si&Ad, written by Rick Dodds, produced with Academy (Copyright © Shelter, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.