Photography week three.

A quick update on the progress of the Accumul8 photography workshops. The approach we are taking is learning through doing, everything is practice based with experimentation as the central core of the Accumul8 participants’ personal development process. In this way, they learn in a supported environment, about risk, confidence, self-belief, managing their own expectations, failure and success. All soft skills that may seem natural to some of us, but for some they need to understand these and adopt these life skills at a later stage in life.

After three weeks, the participants now know all about shutter speed, depth of field and apertures, and they have created their own blogs as a place to upload their photos. They have taken portraits and still life photographs and have produced some really brilliant and creatively rich images.

Yesterday TJ, one if the hostel residents and an Accumul8 participant, said to me, “the only thing that is keeping me going at the moment is my birthday celebration next week and these photography classes”

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The Prime Minister and Accumul8

A couple of weeks ago my mobile phone rang with the caller as “No Caller ID”, you sort of guess that it is going to be a sales call, but I made a decision to answer anyway. The caller said it was The Cabinet Office, yeah, right.

But it was, and they were calling me to tell me that my work for Accumul8 had been recognised as a “Point of Light” (the Prime Minister’s award for people that are doing good things in their community, for charity or social good). I had to keep the award quiet until 5th February when the official announcement would be made via Twitter – everything is so modern these days. And so I did, but let me tell you, the whole thing was mightingly embarassing for me, but great for Accumul8 to be acknowledged in such a way. Indeed February 5th 2015 was a very good day for Accumul8.

photo The Tweet about Accumul8 from the PM

photo (12) The letter from the Prime Minister congratulating me for setting up Accumul8 and the work it has done for the young, homeless people living at the North London YMCA Hostel.


The start of a new season

We have now started the Accumul8 season of photography workshops at the North London YMCA hostel, which will end with an exhibition of the hostel residents’ photographs at the Crouch End Festival in June.

Digital photography is a really effective creative medium to engage and inspire the residents. It allows them to explore and use their creativity, in a very non-judgmental way, but more importantly, puts them in charge and by doing so, increases their confidence, communication skills and sense of well-being. Also digital photography is instant and an activity that everyone can participate in, experiment with and enjoy.

This year, we are again working with Ravensbourne, the college that I work at, who have partnered with Accumul8 – thank you James and Lucy. The students on the access course will be assisting the photographer, Othello deSouza Hartley, who is leading the tuition for the sessions. What is special this year is that the residents will receive a university certificate in digital media (level 2) at the end of the project. This is going to be something very significant, as the residents have often not only suffered from destructive pasts that has triggered their homelessness, but also from poor and fragmented education which has hampered their abilities to progress into employment or other training. Hopefully, the Accumul8 project can inspire them to reconnect with education, relish their achievements and help them on their journey to a better future.

The photo shows Sylwia, an access student at Ravensbourne, helping TJ, a resident at the YMCA hostel, to understand about composition and framing an image.

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Also, this week we are super proud to launch the Accumul8 Community Jam page on our website. This is a page where the community can participate and donate to the Accumul8 project by donating a preserves recipe. (Accumul8 and the residents make and sell preserves with surplus fruit to help pay for the Accumul8 creative workshops at the hostel). The aim of the Accumul8 Community Jam page is to help build awareness of Accumul8 and the work it does and hopefully, inspires a new audience to learn about sustainability, creativity, homelessness and the community.

We are even more proud that so many celebrity chefs and food writers have donated their preserves recipes to Accumul8. Talented, creative figures such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Mark Hix, Dan Doherty, Matthew Fort, Marjorie Paulson, Thane Prince, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall, Pam Corbin, Sarah Randell, Valentine Warner, Olia Hercules, Ghillie James, Vivien Lloyd. Many thanks to all of them. Please donate your preserve recipe too and be part of Accumul8’s work to help the homeless get a better future.