Meet Lucy

Learn Do Share is a series of events promoting the idea of purposeful storytelling: using media to make a real difference in the world. When the event came to London, producer Nina Simoes wanted someone to build a low-budget prototype demonstrating how that might work.

I came up with a story that addressed London’s shortage of social housing. It’s not a sexy subject – there’s no great drama or jeopardy in a family being stuck in cramped temporary accommodation for over a year – and that’s partly why it gets so little news coverage. The challenge I set myself was to try and convey the grim, long-term misery of being caught in that kind of limbo.

To do that, I created a character named Lucy Maddox, based on the real-life example of Daisy-May Hudson and a series of other genuine case studies. In the story, Lucy was living in temporary accommodation with her mum and younger sister, desperately trying to escape to a permanent home.

Using an interactive system called Conducttr (managed by Robert Pratten and Jonny Virgo), the audience were able to send and receive emails and SMS messages to and from Lucy over a period of six weeks in the run-up to the Learn Do Share event. This long period of interaction helped to convey a sense of her everyday life and the slow water-torture of her restricted situation.

At the event itself, Ravensbourne grad Robert Andre built and ran a multi-sensory Oculus Rift model of Lucy’s accommodation. Visitors could wander around her virtual lodgings, experiencing the smell, heat, and claustrophobic confines of the environment. It gave a very immediate and powerful sense of what it must be like to live there.

You can read more about Meet Lucy over on the i-Docs website.