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Meet Homer: The mannequin putting Big Issue vendors at the heart of Coventry’s City of Culture

Big Issue vendors’ stories and artwork are being brought to Coventry’s celebrations in the form of Homer, a tabard-toting mannequin

Big Issue vendors will be popping up throughout Coventry’s City of Culture celebrations in October – thanks to Homer the mannequin.

The quirky art project will see the life-sized mannequin decorated with laminated real-life stories of Big Issue vendors from around the Midlands as well as paintings, poems and customers’ appreciations of their local seller.

The dummy’s run across Coventry is part of the HOME Festival, a celebration of arts and homelessness projects that kicks off on Saturday October 9 and runs for a week.

“Homer came to life as a result of Big Issue vendors’ ideas and contributions,” said The Big Issue’s Gabi Sima.

“Not every vendor that contributed to this project is an artist but vendors’ stories are all together a work of art of a hand up not a hand out. Homer captures vendors, stories, poems, paintings of people longing for a place called home.”

Homer’s first stop will be at Coventry Cathedral on October 9 as part of the Coventry Sleep Out with homelessness charity St Basil’s.

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The mannequin, donated to The Big Issue by Mannakin.com, will then go on a whistle-stop tour of the city, taking in Coventry’s Central Library on October 10, West Midlands Police Museum a day later and a film night at the city’s FarGo Village on October 12.

From there Homer can be found at an Arts and Homelessness Summit at the Methodist Central Hall as well as a flash mob outside the Transport Museum on October 13 before returning to West Midlands Police Museum for two days.

Homer’s packed schedule will culminate in an appearance at the family day outside Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre.

The Big Issue vendor mannequin
Keep an eye out for Homer around Coventry between October 9 and 16. Image: The Big Issue

Coventry City of Culture’s Sophie George told The Big Issue: “We are thrilled that Homer can join us at Coventry’s first HOME festival.

“He will be very busy travelling between all our festival locations in the city and we are inviting members of the public to stop and take a moment to reflect on the stories, artwork and poems he displays created by Big Issue vendors from across the region.”

For a chance to run into Homer, head to the Coventry City of Culture website for full details of HOME Festival events.

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Learn more about our impact

When most people think about the Big Issue, they think of vendors selling the Big Issue magazines on the streets – and we are immensely proud of this. In 2022 alone, we worked with 10% more vendors and these vendors earned £3.76 million in collective income. There is much more to the work we do at the Big Issue Group, our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunity for the 14million people in the UK living in poverty.

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