Banksy’s Newest Street Art in Support of Street Sleepers.

The Christmas period is an exciting time for many as families come together to celebrate the festive season. However, for 320,00 people living in the UK, Christmas is anything but merry. Banksy took to Birmingham to highlight the homeless crisis that the UK suffers with. Hundreds of thousands of people shared their thoughts on Twitter.

Homeless charities praised Banksy’s work for raising awareness to the issue.

Labour supporters appreciated Banksy’s attempt to draw attention to one of the biggest issues in politics and used it as part of the #VoteLabour campaign on social media.

“God bless Birmingham.
In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter — without him ever asking for anything.” #Banksy pic.twitter.com/FCfbquHIiq

- Radlett Labour🌹 (@UKLabourRadlett) December 9, 2019

Christmas is commonly know for being a “time for giving” and this was put into practice by passers-by who kindly shared food and drink with Ryan.

The irony is the art has more protection than the homeless.

Gotta love capitalism where paint is more important than human blood itself.

‘God bless Birmingham’, says Banksy as artwork appears in city https://t.co/TvU4rUA05s

- Brain Fooood 🌐🇯🇲🇯🇲🌐 (@BrainFooood) December 10, 2019

Banksy’s homeless mural has been covered in a protective layer after being vandalised

The artwork has now received more attention and protection in the last 10 hours than the rough sleepers of Brum have received in a decade

- MiMi xxx (@Mi_xxxMi) December 10, 2019

Others were skeptical as they claimed that people seem to only care for the art, but dismiss the fact that homelessness is the harsh reality for some people, and yet they aren’t given the same amount of attention.

Last word from me on it… this is why I don’t do Banksy

A great & important message already forgotten by folk who just want to take smiling selfies (“recreate” the homeless dude vid, eh? 😒) in front of it. Always good intent, mostly the wrong reaction https://t.co/0ZERSr4wr4

- Andy Colatron (@djcolatron) December 9, 2019

Banksy’s message is devalued as people are seen using the spot as an opportunity to pose for photos.

The idea that capitalism doesn’t care for the homeless is becoming more apparent. Evidence of cities investing into architecture that is antagonistic towards rough sleepers is shared.

The FOREVER WAR machine grinds on, supported by both parties. We have unlimited money for it, while our citizens go hungry, homeless, and without healthcare.

Fight this horrendous system. Fight it every day.

- Peter Daou (@peterdaou) January 3, 2020

It’s mentioned that governments are able to continuously fund war in Third World Countries but will neglect their own citizens, implicating that violence takes priority over empathy.

The narrative that the average working class person cares more about homelessness than the politicians with power is implied throughout the viral discussion.

Birmingham got its first Banksy, highlighting the struggles of rough sleepers at Christmas. Naturally the council showed up a day later, covered it in plastic and put rails up to stop people sleeping here. They should put that much effort into giving people somewhere to live pic.twitter.com/3hGUbR6q85

- Max Rathbone (@MaxRathbone) December 20, 2019

Regardless of whether people like Banksy’s newest work, the artist managed to spark conversation about the country’s ongoing issue. However, as mentioned throughout the discussion on Twitter, inspirational words or performance art isn’t enough; real change at the hands of the government is necessary to overcome austerity

Originally published at http://alexmcrmedia.wordpress.com on January 6, 2020.

Journalist studying at Manchester Metropolitan University. Arts, culture and current affairs.