Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Friday 25th June I went to Mustard Tree for my second soup run. I arrived at 6:30 to help prepare and there were young offenders there preparing sandwiches. They laughed when they were introduced as young offenders and said as a joke, “hide your bags.”
Then I hid my bag.
They were there with their leader as part of their community programme. They did not want to be there.
When we arrived we had to wait a while for the van of food to turn up so we had an opportunity to chat to some of the people waiting. I spoke to a man called John from Belfast, he came over to Manchester for a weekend 4 years ago and has stayed ever since. He works at the Trafford centre at nights putting up shops and hopes to start his own business one day.
There were about 30 people there. We started handing out the food. I’m starting to recognise a few faces now.
There was a woman in a full length black dress with a shawl, she helped an elderly man to get his food and sat with him for half an hour while her food went cold. She said it costs nothing to spend 5 minutes keeping an old friend company.
I met a man called Jack, he asked if I recognised him from Britain’s got Talent. He said he could sing, dance and play the harmonica, he even did a little dance there and then. I asked him his name again and told him I would look on youtube to see if I could find him. Right enough, there were 10 videos as Manchester’s dancing man. There were newspaper articles on him about how the queen had replied to his letter about him not getting through the audition stages of Britain’s got Talent.
Jack kindly offered his services and said he would dance for any occasion and he would be happy to dance for any charity event for free. He told me to leave a note in a pub in Picadilly and he would call me back.
I hope I see Jack again.
A man sits in his car with four street workers. He doesn’t want the girls out of the car unless they are working. Our leader takes the food over to them.
I watch the same girl from last week standing in a car park waiting. This is something I struggle to get my head around.
Everyone seemed really grateful for the food and drinks provided and it comes across as quite a social occasion.
Monday, 28 June 2010
I spoke to professional photographer Mishka Henner today on the phone, I briefly explained my project and how I had seen examples of his approach to photographing communities on his website with Liz Lock.
Mishka advised me to find a link within the Mustard Tree charity, such as a co-ordinator or a leader to get to know the charity and homeless people. Finding a person of trust who has already built strong relationships allows your subject to feel more comfortable in your presence.
Mishka explained that there is a delicate balance between doing your work and working for the organisation. He said that everyone has an agenda and in his experience he has often done an exchange, where he may end up giving his subjects their own personal photograph as a keepsake.
“Once you get in there with the organisation people may refer you to speak to someone else who has a story to tell, or someone who talks a lot.”
Mishka said he was once working with people who had mental health problems and the artist who worked there was delighted someone was interested in working with him. Mishka was then able to set the briefs and finally captured photographic portraits.
I told Mishka that Mustard Tree did art and craft classes on a Wednesday afternoon and he strongly suggested using this as an opportunity to build relationships with the homeless people and that there could be something interesting in their expressional art along side portraits.
Mishka said it was all about making your own journey through the project. He said he often came across personal doubt as to why he was studying something but that often became very much a part of the project.
“Be aware of your own reactions and barriers you cross. The subject will be just as suspicious of you. There is no right way of doing a project like this. All you can do is get in there, meet people and document the experience.”
I was advised to watch an 80s film called Driving me Crazy by Nick Broomfield. It was a documentary about the making of the musical Fame in New York, however, it turned out to be more about the making of the documentary. This demonstrates how effective it can be to record your own personal journey throughout a project as well focusing on the subject.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Our House: the exhibition
Our House is an exhibition and book project curated by Len Grant. It features photography by Len Grant, Shaw + Shaw, Liz Lock and Mishka Henner, and Charlie Burns.
‘It used to be called slum clearance, now it’s called regeneration. Tens of thousands of families across Britain are experiencing the largest re-housing programme since the 1960s. So what’s it like to be part of this brave new world? In Our House six photographers, including 15 year-old Charlie Burns, document stories of regeneration in Manchester, Salford, and Tameside.’
Mishka and Liz’s current photography projects have addressed community issues.
BORDERLAND - The cultural / community division in Manchester's Oldham.
I love these individual profile photographs. They are so simple, so ordinary however as a series can create a strong message. I find it powerful when the person looks directly into the camera.
Research & Report
by Grant Shapps MP
Official Governement statistics dramatically underestimate the number of rough sleepers.
The number of people sleeping rough is nearly 3 times greater than admitted in official government figures.
The current system requires local authorities to provide a rough sleepers estimate between the bracket of 0 and 10. However the number is then automatically reduced to zero, thereby dramatcially underestimating the number of people sleeping rough each night.
Official Government statistics say that Manchester has just 7 rought sleepers, whereas, Lifeline a manchester based charity, has counted nearly 50 on a single night. 6times more than officially recognised.
In June 2007 a Manchester based charity, Lifeline conducted a survey of 100 injecting drug users in Manchester. Of those 100 they found that 8 in 10 were homeless and almost half would be sleeping rough that night.
Friday, 18 June 2010
I arrived at 6:30 to help prepare the food/drinks and packing for the soup run. A lovely man called Tony was the leader, he has been doing soup runs for 14 years and gave me a few tips on what to expect from the people on the street. There were about 10 volunteers and there was plenty on offer: potato/pasta bake, tea, coffee, sweets, biscuits, water, juice, hot chocolate, bread, toothpaste and lady things.
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
From a young age I have always been interested in the topic of homelessness. A lack of understanding has lead to many unanswered questions as to why people are homeless and how people can help? I have read many books on the area and find the issue fascinating, the people remarkable and their stories moving. Having lived in the centre of Manchester throughout this year I have crossed paths with homeless people everyday. With the issue so current in my lifestyle I have been inspired to want to help the homeless community in Manchester by supporting an existing charity.
These are two of my favourite books that have inspired me. They are both personal memoirs that include issues of homelessness.