Comic on life in a Sunderland hostel to help homeless around the world

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A BRIGHTLY-coloured comic designed to help homeless Wearsiders is going around the world.

Residents at Swan Lodge life house put together the booklet with centre tutor Sean Robson.

The 16-page comic proved such a hit that it is being distributed to the charity’s centres across the UK and beyond.

Sean spoke to men at the centre in High Street East about their experiences and took photos around the area to create “Sunderland Swan Lodge”.

It is hoped the first edition could kick-start a series of comics tackling issues related to hostel life – such as addiction and relationships – which are accessible to everyone.

Residents were quick to engage with the idea, said Sean, 47, and he was delighted with the end result, which took a week to produce.

“I’m quite pleased with it. It has turned out all right.”

“I’d like to do one a bit bigger and take a bit longer to do it.

“It’s fantastic that it is going to other countries and I’m really excited.”

Manager Christine Tait suggested music tutor Sean put his sketching skills to the test to produce a one-page first draft.

It was sent off to the Salvation Army headquarters in London, where bosses were so pleased with the finished product that it went on display in the church’s William Booth College.

Based on the experiences of the men living in Swan Lodge, the comic touches on the life of a former solider who has fallen on hard times.

Sean said he would like to explore this angle further in any future editions.

But there are challenges to working in the hostel environment, where some residents have addiction issues.

He added: “It can be quite transient. You can be working without someone for weeks and months and get them to a very good level and suddenly they are not there, because they’ve been arrested, or thrown out, or moved on.”

The tutor, who splits his time with working as a psychiatric nurse, also tutors residents in music production and making podcasts.

As well as doing more editions of the centre’s in-house comic, he aims to work with them on a film and musical score.