The LHF supports using a wide range of ways to help people understand what homelessness is all about.  Although we were not involved in this project we wanted to help bring it to a wider audience.

Directed by Dorothy Allen-Pickard
Produced by Alice Whittemore & Ruth Sweeney


In the last 10 years, research has revealed how dehumanised perception occurs in relation to homeless people. It is known as the ‘bystander effect.’ Part of what encourages the bystander effect is the way we talk about homelessness.

Conversations in the media and in charity campaigns tend to focus on the individual, placing them at the centre of a narrative of salvation, despair, or stigma. This ignores the fact that homelessness is a systematised problem.

This documentary dramatises stories, conversations and research around homelessness, and explores how they can change the way dehumanisation operates in society.

It is split into 3 different sections, filmed across 3 connected studio sets. Scenes include a verbatim monologue about one individual’s experience of homelessness; a group conversation between people with experience of homelessness; and a neuroscientist’s research into how dehumanisation operates in society.

We have made this film in partnership with the Museum of Homelessness and it premiered as part of their show Objectified, in Manchester Art Gallery in Autumn 2018.


I became interested in how stories affect the way we think about people when I first started making films. While working with Museum of Homelessness, I realised that the more of their ’Object Stories’ I heard, the more my own perception of homelessness changed. When Dr. Lasana Harris explained the neuroscience behind this effect I decided to make a documentary that could paint the full picture of how dehumanised perception occurs, but also provide some answers around how we can respond to it.

I want this film to have a transformative effect on the people who watch it, making them think twice about how we all play a part in perpetuating dehumanising attitudes towards homeless people. By combining three completely different registers (clinical scientific, intimate testimony and impassioned conversation) I hope to complexify and dramatise an issue that we can all help change.


Dorothy’s short films and multimedia shows have won prizes including the Guardian Documentary Award, Best UK Short at Open City Documentary Festival, Vimeo Staff Pick and Total Theatre Award. They’ve screened at numerous international festivals, as well as on BBC3, Channel 4, i-D and The Guardian.

Dorothy has a particular interest in working with non- professional actors to create semi-autobiographical films that merge documentary and fiction. She is also a member of Breach Theatre and is video editor for Another Gaze.


Dr. Lasana Harris, Neuroscientist

A Senior Lecturer at University College London in the department of Experimental Psychology. His research explores social cognition, dehumanisation and anthropomorphism.

Sherrie Cameron Akoto

Actress and artistic associate for Museum of Homelessness. She has worked with Dorothy on previous Object Stories, and with theatre group Cardboard Citizens

Museum of Homelessness, Core Group

Driven by lived experience of homelessness, Museum of Homelessness collects and shares the art, histories and culture of homelessness to change society for the better. MoH collect everyday objects – and their stories – which shine a light on what’s happening in homeless people’s lives. The Core Group runs and develops MoH, ensuring that experience of the issues is central to their work.

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