The Voice, Ravensbourne and an Exhibition update

We are now on the final part of the journey from Accumul8 chutneys and jams to an exhibition of photographs, and it has been a real learning journey. That journey is one of transition, not just that of the Accumul8 group, but also for myself. The Accumul8 project has to be one of the most rewarding learning experiences that I have had in 15 years of an education based career. I have learnt about humbleness, expectations, values, trust and respect. Sometimes the learning has been hard and I have had to learn to just accept that sometimes, a little is enough and to be satisfied. Something that rubs up against privilege and ambition and middle class drive. Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener, it is green enough and we can all sit on it and share and just enjoy it.

So, as we end this part of the journey there have been a few more wonderful highlights that I wanted to share. Accumul8 got a wonderful full page write up in The Voice (thanks to the wonderful Emma Carboni). All during the week, Emma has been emailing me with updates on the Accumul8 “raising awareness” campaign. And then I got an email which said “Full bloody page in The Voice” and you could feel the excitement overload buzzing over the internet!


On Wednesday this week, was the visit to Ravensbourne, the college where I work. Ravensbourne have been brilliantly supportive of Accumul8, they have paid for the student helpers (lovely Robyn and Sanchez), are paying for the printing of the photographs for the exhibition and have loaned us all the equipment and cameras for the workshops. It’s a small, specialist college and they are, indeed, very, very special to Accumul8! (We just couldn’t have done the photography project without them).

The Accumul8 group had a tour round the building, a talk about all the different courses on offer at Ravensbourne and then we got down to selecting the final 80 prints for the exhibition, this is from a total of 1100 photographs that the Accumul8 group has taken over the past four months (not an easy task!). The countdown to the big show is beginning, it all feels very real and ever so slightly scary!.

The Accumul8 exhibition is less than two weeks away, and this weekend we are starting to frame up the images. All of a sudden, from viewing the images on a laptop, we are now seeing the finished photographs, in frames, ready to exhibit. We have already sold some of the work. I am, of course, hoping to sell alot more.

This blog is ending with a photo of the Accumul8 group after the visit and outside the iconic Ravensbourne building. It’s been a long, learning journey from making chutneys and jams in tiny church kitchen to a prestigious photography exhibition at The Couch End Festival. I’ve truly loved every minute of it.


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The Haringey Independent features Accumul8

The excitement grows at Accumul8 HQ as we get our first bit of press in the Haringey Independent.  Here it is!


Chutney changes lives of homeless YMCA residents

Shaun Ashley with lots of jam

A new initiative is teaching residents at North London’s YMCA the art of making chutneys and jams.

Marice Cumber, of Crouch End, was asked by NLYMCA to help hostel residents break into the creative industries, but realized that she’d have to raise funds.

With others, she formed the group Accumul8, and aimed to raise cash by starting a creative business.

The resulting Moroccan apple and date chutney, apple pie jam and quince jam have proven a hit at the Crouch end Festival, with one record-breaking month seeing 300 jars sold at £5 each.

“Crouch End is such a foodie area, I thought jams and chutney would sell. I had to come up with a product and I wanted it to be different to what you can already get in Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s. We had to come up with some special flavours.

“I did a bit of a shout out to the local community and asked if they could give us their surplus food, and they just got really, really into it. There’ve been bags of stuff; I’ve had quinces, I’ve had tomatoes – it wasn’t just the surplus food. There were huge amounts. There was an interest in engaging with the hostel.

“We live in one of the wealthier parts of the borough. I think it’s a real shame, we’re in Crouch End with all these coffee shops and there are these people living in a hostel on our doorstep, and we’re not really engaging with them. I think from both ways it’s a real learning curve. This is a privileged community, and we can use our skills to help.”

The group started off making jam in the kitchen of the Holy Innocent’s Church, before moving the YMCA’s kitchen.

Shaun Ashley, a YMCA resident who is now supporting housing officer, has worked on the jam project since its inception.

He said: “Basically, we wanted to get money for creative projects and I was glad to be doing something to generate money.

“I’ve never made jam before getting into this. Making the jams is interesting, when you first make it you taste it so you know it’s going to be sweet, but it’s not jam at that point. It’s llike iquid. After a while it tastes totally different.

“The most rewarding stage is the last one when it actually looks like jam. It’s actually something that you’ve made. The first jam I made – I was elated.

“It’s helped my life along. I’m much happier now. Although I was happy during all the jam-making, too.”

The group hope to sell their jams and chutneys in cafes across Crouch End.