The Fear of the Unknown

As we approach Christmas many of us are thinking about time with family, warm and cosy evenings with loved ones, however there is a whole group of people for which Christmas is a truly different experience - those who face homelessness. This fantastic blog by Raised Voices Founder, Blair Christie, looks at some of the positive work being undertaken to help a group of people find some light in the darkness.

Raised Voices is an  award winning, Edinburgh homeless and mental health charity. They work creatively to develop their members’ confidence, employability and all round wellbeing.

The fear of the unknown has always been something that excites me. The thought of going on an adventure or sampling a new experience has been something I have always searched for and embraced when the opportunity arose.  I like the idea of not knowing what lays ahead, or how a situation may unfold and find that I approach such times with a sense of excitement. I come at this from a certain position of privilege and  I understand that this isn’t the case for everybody.

For the past 6 years I have been working with people who have experienced homelessness in its many different forms. I can’t think of a situation where uncertainty and the feeling of not knowing what lies ahead prevails so acutely. If I were to read out the opening paragraph above to most of them, they would find it laughable that such an outlook exists. It can be so daunting being homeless and the future often bleak. Imagine the fear of the unknown that first night you sleep rough, or the first time you are re-homed, possibly away from your friends and having to budget for the first time.

This is where I find creativity comes in to play and can be such a huge help to the people that I work with. It’s such a great way to channel certain fears and to embrace the unknown. Picking up the pen to write a poem, a paintbrush to draw a picture, just a blank canvass and a world of possibilities ahead. Having a creative outlet and embracing the unknown can help anyone and at any time. Those traumatic experiences of the past and often the present can be used as fuel to ignite your creative fire, turning something negative in to an explosion of positivity and this is where the fear of the unknown is suddenly something to seek and to enjoy.

This was the case when our first Raised Voices group decided that we were going to write a play and perform it at the Edinburgh Fringe. None of us had even considered such a thing before, let alone had any experience of it. So, we all held hands and jumped in to the unknown. Not with fear but with excitement.

We wrote a show around a character named Danny and although Danny was fictional he represented the group as a whole. Danny had to navigate life from sleeping rough to getting housed and having to deal with an unfair benefits system. The life experience and passion of the charity’s members gave the play an honest and raw edge, which resonated with the audience and bestowed on us some fantastic reviews. It was these reviews that bought the most joy to the group. To be acknowledged not only for the play that they had to really strive to create but also their lives meant the world to them. For no longer did they feel completely isolated, trapped in an uncertain world that nobody could see, or chose not to see.

Since then we have returned to the Fringe and undertaken other projects, most notably creating a show over zoom during the pandemic. Nothing seems to daunt the group any more, and the fear they once had is lessened. Not just creatively but personally too.


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