Documentary explores tuberculosis amongst Canterbury’s homeless

Heidi Pullig

The first instalment of a new three-part feature length documentary film, which exposes the social exclusion experienced by homeless people suffering with tuberculosis in county Kent, was launched at the University on 9 December.

From the Cubby is co-directed by Joe Spence, a doctoral researcher from the School of Anthropology and Conservation, and Nick Chamberlain, whose personal experience of tuberculosis disease and homelessness is featured in the film itself. The film has been made in collaboration with other former tuberculosis patients, many of whom also have a lived experience of rough sleeping in county Kent.

Based on five years of documenting a community in Kent which suffered outbreak of microbacterium africanem (a strain of tuberculosis) in 2017, From the Cubby explores the lives of people who were infected, and the extraordinary efforts of Kent health and social care professionals as they battled to prevent further contagion. The film also demonstrates tuberculosis’ enduring and escalating threat to public health, the social contexts that help it to thrive, and the broader challenges of eradicating it globally.

Joe Spence said: ‘By screening this film we are attempting raise the public profile of tuberculosis in the UK, and to give a voice to patients with lived experiences of the disease. Our aim is promote productive conversations and collaborations across health and social care for an improved approach to tackling both issues of homelessness and disease within such communities.’

Joe’s PhD research addresses communicable disease (in this case tuberculosis) among patients experiencing social exclusion and treatment barriers around drug addiction, mental health, poverty and homelessness. From the Cubby is a self-funded project which forms part of his doctoral thesis alongside a written dissertation.

Earlier this year a research and development screening was hosted at Canterbury Cathedral, which was attended by 150 guests representing 40 organisations from across Kent. Since the screening the From the Cubby production team have been developing the series in line with the feedback from stakeholders and participating organisations.