Welcome to the official page of Clarissa
A film created to improve the health of people affected by homelessness, through better understanding of their experiences.
This important film aims to create change through insights within the storyline of the main character, Clarissa.
Her story is one of trauma, the importance of trust, and how this impacts someone’s experiences of healthcare. It has been woven together from real experiences of people trying to access the healthcare system while facing homelessness in the UK.
Find further resources and signposting further down this page.
Clarissa explores themes relating to childhood abuse, drug taking and drug dependency.
Should you need further support in relation to these issues, please see our support resources page for a list of organisations you can contact.
Download the resource pack
- Guidance for watching the film
- Key topics/discussion points
Did you find this resource useful?
We would love to hear your feedback on the film, the accompanying resources and the changes you made in response to it.
More resources and signposting
Online training for Health, Social Care and Voluntary sector staff and organisations in working with populations with complex needs, on subjects such as:
- Rough sleeper mental health awareness [free]
- Trauma-informed approaches
- Using attachment theory in everyday practice
- Staff self-care and wellbeing
The Faculty is an inclusive membership organisation for people involved in health care for excluded groups, for example:
- Homeless people
- Gypsies and Travellers
- Vulnerable migrants
- Sex workers
Membership is open to all health professionals, social care professionals, housing and hostel workers, social workers, public health experts, support workers, outreach providers, commissioners, researchers and people with lived experience of exclusion.
Based on a literature review, we have produced an action guide to support service users to better understand the signs of trauma and why services may use this type of approach, and to help staff start conversations around trauma.
Enable professionals to systematically identify and address health inequalities and equity in their work programmes or services.
Sign up to receive the latest news and resources from Groundswell’s #HealthNow campaign.
It aims to work towards an inclusive health system where everyone has access to the health care they need; ultimately moving people out of homelessness.
#HealthNow is led by Groundswell and delivered in partnership with national charities Crisis and Shelter.
Healthy London Partnership works with regional partners with the aim of improving access to healthcare and the capacity and capability of the system to respond to the needs of people who are homeless, to improve their health and reduce their hospital admissions.
The homeless health resources is a collation of information on services, listed in one place.
The Groundswell Homeless Health Peer Advocacy (HHPA) service supports people experiencing homelessness to address physical and mental health issues.
We work to improve people’s confidence in using health services and increase their ability to access healthcare independently.
A research informed toolkit providing information and resources for frontline staff supporting people who are homeless and who have significant health needs.
The LNNM is a charity which works to support professionals working in inclusion health, to promote best practice and to develop inclusion health as a distinct, recognised speciality.
The network has evolved from being a purely nurse, midwife and health visitor focused network to include allied health professionals, support workers, peer advocates and students.
Everyone has a right to healthcare. But registering with a GP can be very difficult when you are homeless.
‘My Right to Healthcare Cards’ can help people register. Thanks to NHS England, they are available nationally and can be ordered for free.
StreetLink exists to help end rough sleeping by enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.
About the making of Clarissa
Clarissa is a fictional film created in collaboration people who have lived experience of homelessness. It is not intended to be viewed as best practice, but instead open up the conversation about the barriers to accessing healthcare faced by people who are experiencing homelessness, and potential solutions to these.
Clarissa was made by Chris Godwin from Inner Eye Productions in collaboration with Groundswell; screenwriter and producer Jimmy McGovern also served as a story consultant on the film. It has been funded by Wellcome Trust.
Filmmaker Chris Godwin says…
I was approached about making the film in 2017. The aim – to shift people’s perceptions of accessing healthcare when experiencing homelessness.
The film is rooted in the power of storytelling and isn’t designed to tell or show people what to do, merely be a platform for discussion and debate. Ultimately the film offers an emotional perspective on the issues alongside data, charts and graphs.
I worked closely with peer researcher Mat Amp who travelled the country speaking to people about their experiences – it is these experiences that informed the script.
Filming was due to start in June 2020, however because of the pandemic it was delayed to October. On the one hand it was frustrating to have to delay the filming, but on the other hand it allowed us to really consider the story we wanted to tell and reach out to collaborators.
Having been a lifelong fan of the esteemed screenwriter Jimmy McGovern (Cracker, Broken, Time), on a whim I approached him to see if he’d be interested in working as a story consultant on the film, which he agreed to do. He was incredibly generous with his time and offered huge insight to the film. Equally I reached out to the amazing composer Jonny Colgan (normally I would use library music). He produced a beautiful haunting score, which really adds to the atmosphere of the film.
The street filming locations were in Twickenham and the GP location was generously provided by the Connection at St Martins. Due to the COVID restrictions we were unable to have a nurse on location to offer clinical advice, instead we would Facetime the scenes to Rosa Unpakorn – a nurse who works with people experiencing homelessness.
Mat Amp was also on location, working both as a supporting artist and an advisor to the lead – Sarah Hoare. Also all supporting artists on the film had a lived experience of being homeless.
It has been a huge privilege working on Clarissa and meeting the all the amazing people working at Groundswell – a truly life changing charity with a huge heart. As I have begun to understand the issues of experiencing homelessness and accessing healthcare are incredibly complex, however as the film conveys there is a powerful simplicity in the power of compassion.
Virtual launch tour
Throughout October 2021, Groundswell was thrilled to team up with Ideas Alliance to present a series of live, regional launch screenings followed by a discussion panel/Q&A.
Post-screening discussions gave attendees opportunity to reflect on the issues voiced in the film and consider how small changes in practice or policy could create healthcare systems and experiences that work better for everyone.
We had some very interesting and productive conversations — thank you to everyone who joined us!
Image caption: a shot of the East England panel mid-discussion