SMart Network was established in September 2000 to empower socially marginalised people through creative activities, both to engage them in the wider community and to find pathways to social integration. SMart Network was founded and developed by arts facilitator Jaime Bautista who has more than 30 years’ experience working with severely disadvantaged people in the UK and abroad. SMart has been the benchmark for over 10 years, for its rehabilitation of individuals through artistic endeavour, as well as for changing negative perceptions of the public.
Though SMart uses art as its main medium for facilitating the self-development of its members, art is by no means the only skill that is developed. Social skills, enterprise, engagement in positive activities, self- presentation are all skills promoted by SMart. SMart is also committed to educating the communities in which it operates about its activities and changes the negative public perception about socially marginalized people.
By facilitating the self-development of the socially marginalized SMart takes people from a state of financial reliance on social services and the community to one of self-dependence.
SMart has very clear and focused objectives:
· To be the principal agent for the marketing of the work of homeless and socially excluded people working in a professional manner.
· To be an effective means of publicizing the social issues raised by homelessness and socially marginalized people, in order to increase public awareness.
· To be an influential pressure group, capable of bringing significant pressure to bear on government and industry, and the community at large.
· To spread SMart philosophy and inspire to create new projects and support and help to develop existing ones.
· To contribute to get rid of the negative stigmas of homeless, jobless or mentally ill people carry as their ID, to help them to regain their real identity as people.
Our experience has shown us that people’s needs are more than shelter, food, and financial assistance.
When people’s lives lack social structure, constructive activities and active participation in the community they are at risk of losing their home, becoming alcohol and/or drug abusers, or developing mental health problems. Therefore it is essential to engage them in constructive activities on a regular basis to provide them with a sense of belonging in their community.
Jimmy Dixon was born in England, but was sent away to a children’s home in Australia at the age of six. When Jimmy was twenty, he returned to England and applied for a place at the Royal College of Art. He was not accepted. “They told me I would never be good enough.” Since then Jimmy has exhibited his work at St. Johns crypt in Waterloo and many other places.
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