Would you notice your professor if they were homeless?
To highlight the plight of homeless and destitute in Southwark, King’s students persuaded a well-known teacher to dress as a rough sleeper to see if students would recognise a face they saw every day.
Student-led King's ISOC Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) Project, persuaded Dr Despo Papachristodoulou, who teaches some 1,500 individual students a year - to participate in a social experiment.
Wearing worn-out clothing and holding a ‘Homeless and Hungry’ sign, she sat adjacent to the London Bridge Station, just across from the Shard and the busy Guy’s Campus for an afternoon to experience life on the streets. Despite an afternoon on the street, not one of her thousands of students noticed her, even though she recognised many of them.
Dr Papachristidoulou said of the experience, which was filmed by the society: “I now understand more how it feels to be homeless. I felt invisible”.
Student Mariam Koronfel, ARK Co-Lead said, “We had interviewed rough sleepers on multiple occasions and the majority seemed to agree that they felt invisible. As students, while we may not be able to do much, we do have the power to affect how rough sleepers feel about themselves and thus how they felt about everything around them.”
Shown in the video is fourth year medical student, Naveed Khan, who was previously the Head of the ARK project. As well trying to highlight the plight of the homeless, the Project are also implementing sustainable measures to help the homeless. ‘SnackBack’ was launched earlier this year in collaboration with the Shed café on Guy’s Campus: students can sign up to collect leftover food from the Shed to give out to the rough sleepers in the area with an experienced ARK member.
The team also established the ARK Healthcare Education Sessions at St Mungo’s Female and Male shelters, where healthcare students provide an aspect of preventative medicine and health awareness on different relevant topics to individuals who are, or at risk of becoming homeless.
You can read more about the Islamic Society's ARK project online.
Watch video of Islamic Society ARK social experiment