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Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Jay at the Accumul8 Shoreditch workshop.

Learning photography at Accumulate isn’t just about learning photography.

Accumulate is all about learning. learning new skills, learning about photography and for the young people involved, to learn more about themselves and their potential. One thing Accumulate also tries to do is to vary the learning styles we use as much as possible. So, even though, we are delivering photography workshops every week and the participants are learning to use DSLR cameras and how to take good photographs, the learning also comes from industry speakers, visiting galleries and exhibitions, doing activities and developing personal skills (such as communication, time management and self-discipline skills) in a comfortable and trusting environment.

This is all part of a journey that the participants go on. It is a journey of self -discovery, such as when the group did the portrait workshop at Photofusion and wrote letters to their future selfs. They decorated their portraits with stickers and jewels and shared their insights and letters with each other. It became a situation where people opened up and talked about their hopes for themselves.

Sharing and learning together at the Photofusion workshop.

Sharing and learning together at the Photofusion workshop.

Louis shares his letter to himself in 15 years time.

Louis shares his letter to himself in 15 years time.

A really popular, and very exciting, annual Accumulate photography workshop is the visit to London Fashion Week where the group photographs all the fashionistas who hang about outside the shows. This year, we held the “pre-workshop” at Somerset House and invited three fashion industry speakers to tell of their stories, their set-backs and achievements. One of the speakers was Tori Taiwo, a fashion designer and photographer, who had been previously homeless, and told the group that their situation should not be used to hold them back but can be turned into something positive. A really hard hitting, powerful and heart felt message for the Accumulate group, and Tori spent time speaking about how her own personal negative situation which became a force for eventual success. All it took her was self-belief, grit, determination and resilience. And those don’t cost anything.

Younnis shares his photograph with a fashionista at London Fashion Week.

Jay shares his photograph with a fashionista at London Fashion Week.

And so the Accumulate photography workshops have now come to an end for 2017 and the selection process starts for their exhibition.

The last workshop the group had was a street photography session which took place in Shoreditch. Shoreditch is all about of crazy graffiti, Hoxton hipsters and cool cafes, but this last Accumul8 workshop was actually about learning that everyone had been on an incredible life journey. They had become more confident, happy, made new friends and were enthusiastic and energised by their new skills. This is true for the Accumulate participants and also the Ravensbourne students. Just young people who enjoy learning, sharing and being with each other. Roll on the Accumulate exhibition!

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Jay at the Accumul8 Shoreditch workshop.

Geron, Claire, Deluxe, Sabela and Younis at the Accumulate Shoreditch workshop.

Shoreditch Shoots and the Accumul8 Gang

This week we went to Autograph’s premises in Shoreditch. It is the home of the Association of Black Photographers and we were really privileged to be shown the archive of photographs by black and diverse photographers, hear about the organisation and learn about a wealth of photographic work with huge cultural and historical importance.

Ali Eissa from Autograph in Shoreditch shows off the wonders of their archive to the Accumul8 participants.

Ali Eissa from Autograph in Shoreditch shows off the wonders of their archive to the Accumul8 participants.

About 95% of Accumul8’s participants this year are from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds and so this visit and significant relevance and importance to them and was something that they could all relate to.

The amazing and inspirational Gisela Torres then led the photography workshop around the streets of Shoreditch, with the students from Ravensbourne assisting and supporting the Accumul8 participants to take the best possible shots in the lead up to their exhibition at The Guardian.

Goda from Ravensbourne, Younnes from Freedom from Torture and Geron from East London YMCA on the Accumul8 Shoreditch Shoot.

Goda from Ravensbourne, Younnes from Freedom from Torture and Geron from East London YMCA on the Accumul8 Shoreditch Shoot.

The participants, who are from 9 different hostels across London, are now friends with each other, sharing their images and being open about their work and aspirations within the project. It is so amazing how the impact of this project goes beyond learning about photography and encourages confidence, communication skills and pride in the participants.

Gisela Torres, an Accumul8 tutor, shares her photography wisdom and skills with Jay and Alex, two Accumul8 participants.

Gisela Torres, an Accumul8 tutor, shares her photography wisdom and skills with Jay and Alex, two Accumul8 participants on the Shoreditch Shoots photography workshop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward exhibition

The Accumul8 “Moving Forward” exhibition will showcase the photographs of 11 amazing young people, who are living in hostels across London, and who took part in this year’s Accumul8 photography workshops.

The exhibition takes place at The Guardian, in Kings Cross, and the private view will be an opportunity to see the striking images, meet the photographers and talk to them about their work and experience of attending the Accumul8 project. This year we have created the Accumul8 Scholarship, sponsored by BOP Consulting, to pay for an Accumul8 participant to study on the one year digital media and photography course at Ravensbourne, the scholarship will be awarded on the night of the private view.

If you would like to attend the Moving Forward exhibition private view, please register via this link 

Hope to see you there!

Preparing for the Accumul8 Photography Exhibition

This week was the start of the big journey towards the grand Accumul8 exhibition at The Guardian, opening on July

Starting the selection process

Starting the selection process

14th.

And what a week it was! We started and completed the selection process of the photographs that have made the grade and will be shown. We also were able to celebrate and congratulate all the young people who had participated in the Accumul8 project on their achievements so far.

We were really privileged to have Luke Dodd, curator of The Guardian space, and Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery, make the big decisions as to what will be shown and to also hear from the real professionals about why they were making specific choices and why certain images were worthy of being exhibited. Both Luke and Brett were really impressed by the work and Luke spent considerable time afterwards talking to the Accumul8 participants about their individual photographs, their talent and their potential to take their photography further.

Luke and Brett curating the images that will be shown at the Accumul8 exhibition

Luke and Brett curating the images that will be shown at the Accumul8 exhibition

This was very timely, as this year, for the first time, Accumul8 will be awarding one, very lucky, Accumul8 participant a scholarship to study on the Access to HE Diploma in Creative and Digital Media at Ravensbourne. The Accumul8 scholarship will cover their fees, plus there is also the possibility of having their laptop and camera paid for as well. Our thanks go to Burns Owen Partnership for supporting the Accumul8 Scholarship.
The goal is eventually, for the recipient of the Accumul8 scholarship to then become an Accumul8 workshop assistant and role model for future participants of the Accumul8 creativity project for young, homeless people. It’s a case of education changing lives, creating new futures and good, old reciprocity.

 

The Accumul8 group get to see what of their work has been chosen for the exhibition.

The Accumul8 group get to see which pieces of their work have been chosen for the exhibition.

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The Accumul8 group on top of Primrose Hill

Countdown to the Accumul8 exhibition

selection2choosing photos for exhibitionThis week we started to select the photographs for the Accumul8 exhibition at The Guardian headquarters in King’s Cross. It was wonderful seeing the participants’ confidence grow as they realised that they had a collection of images that were worthy of being in a public exhibition and were making and understanding choices as to what is a great picture. ‪#‎OthellodeSouzaHartley‬ and ‪#‎SteveFranck‬ did a great job with the first edit, the next edit for the show will be with curators from ‪#‎TheGuardian‬ and ‪#‎ThePhotographersGallery‬.

Photos: Jamila gives her photo selection the thumbs-up!

Jamila gives her photo selection the thumbs-up!

2016 and we’re ready to go!

We’ve achieved so much in 2015- and there’s lots to look forward to in 2016.

We held a photography exhibition at Hornsey Town Hall, which surpassed all expectations:A Private View which was buzzing with appreciative public, press and our photographers, who got lots of networking done, and were delighted with the response to their work.

We were featured in The Guardian and on London Tonight, won an award from the Prime Minister.  We even found time to produce a calendar for 2016 for Alexandra Palace.

We still produced (and sold out of) lots of preserves, which means we now have funds for Accumul8 2016. And we managed to enjoy it all!

What’s even better is that all the participants in Accumul8 2015 have moved on to a more positive journey in their lives, including coming off of benefits, finding employment, getting back in touch with family, starting a training course and moving out of the hostel. And this is what Accumul8 is truly about – using creativity to build the confidence and sense of well-being to allow people to move forward, develop skills and feel better about themselves and their lives.

We are now just about to start the Accumul8 2016 Photography Workshops. This year, we will be working with three hostels for homeless people, in North, East and South London. So Accumul8 is now Pan London! 10 students have been recruited from Ravensbourne to help deliver the photography workshops and facilitate photography tutor supremo Othello De’Souza Hartley, and we have some AMAAAAAAZING partners on board including (SUPER DRUM  ROLL!!!) The Photographers’ Gallery, The Roundhouse, The Barbican, Birdsong London and of course, the wonderful Ravensbourne. Thank you to all of them for helping make Accumul8 happen!

 

Accumul8 gets featured in The Guardian!

Sometimes really good things happen with Accumul8, and getting featured in The Guardian is a fantastic achievement. The Guardian focused on the story of Accumul8 and how the students at Ravensbourne are learning and developing skills from teaching the YMCA residents about photography skills as well as developing an understanding of the project.

One of the goals when I set up Accumul8 was about creating multiple benefits and beneficiaries through collaboration, this feature by Natalie Gil of The Guardian really sums this up. Thank you Natalie, for a great article!

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Teaching homeless people gives photography students a new perspective
When university students take on the task of teaching hostel residents to take pictures, both groups are stretched to their limits
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Sam Adesanyan, a resident at the north London YMCA, takes part in a photography workshop. Photograph: Stuart Moore

“I live with my parents in a three-bedroom house in a nice area, so compared to what these guys have been through, I’m a freakin’ princess,” says Robyn Slator, 21, a digital photography student who spent much of last year teaching homeless people to take pictures.

For fellow student Sam Goodridge, 20, one of the current teachers, it’s been eye-opening. “I come from Surrey where it’s mainly middle class white people, so it’s nice to see what the other half get up to, and make friends.”

They’re part of a project where university students have been sharing their creative skills with homeless men living in a YMCA hostel in north London. The hostel residents, who are also benefitting from the involvement of a professional photographer, say they are discovering their own creativity and developing job skills.

“Initially, I liked that it got me involved in something outside the YMCA,” says Stuart Moore (not his real name), 31, a hostel resident and workshop participant.

“But having taken part for a number for weeks now, I’ve enjoyed learning more about photography and the technical aspects of the camera itself. And it’s been good to get to know my fellow residents a little better.”

Liam Gayle, 29, another resident, says it’s encouraged him to socialise with people he otherwise might not have spoken to. “That’s not against their personalities, who they are or where they’re from… but by throwing you out of your comfort zone this helps you make new friends.”

And a third participant, Taurean Jordan, 29, adds: “I’ve learned that anyone can do anything – photography is something I never thought I’d take up.”

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The residents on a visit to Ravensbourne

Their “teachers” are students from Ravensbourne, an arts university in south-east London. For them, the project has been a huge boost to their communication, leadership and management skills.

Sanchez Palmer, 23, had never taught before, but this experience has persuaded him to go into education. Since graduating from Ravensbourne with a digital photography degree, he has got a job as a teaching assistant at a secondary school.

“I learned that it’s not always going to be as perfect as you want it to be,” says Palmer. “One week there’d be 10 people and another week there’d be two, but as long as I put all of me into it, it was fine.”

Palmer learned a lot from the residents: “Their stories affected the pictures they took. It’s weird, but you’d see pain in a picture and when you’d ask them to explain it, your eyes opened to new perspectives.” Sometimes, they’d ask to change photos into black and white to highlight emotion.

Slator, who also wants to become a teacher, says her only previous experience was with her local Brownie group. She says it was daunting at first having authority over an older, mostly male group from vastly different backgrounds.

“But once you get to know everyone, you become more comfortable. I came here on the first week with my posh voice, but that changed over the time.”

The project was organised by a social enterprise called Accumul8, founded by Marice Cumber, subject leader for enterprise and entrepreneurship at Ravensbourne, which specialises in digital media and design.

“This isn’t the easiest group of people to deal with,” says Cumber, “and education isn’t an easy ride, so it teaches you about passing on knowledge at a level that’s appropriate to your audience.”

The project’s goal was to showcase residents’ photographs at the Crouch End Festival. But to do that, they needed money. So they raised it by making and selling jams and chutneys – “preserves with a purpose” – from windfall fruit donated by the community.

The exhibition was a success, with prints selling for £45 – some multiple times – which worked wonders for the residents’ self-esteem.

“People wanted to talk to the photographers – so a group of people who’d previously been at the bottom of the pile in the community became celebrities for an evening,” says Cumber. “There was a positive vibe and more optimistic language being used.”

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North London YMCA residents at their photography exhibition in June 2014
The link with Ravensbourne is crucial in raising residents’ aspirations, says Cumber, and the hostel-dwellers who complete this year’s workshops will get a level two award in photography.

“It’s a big step up from where they are now – and visiting the college shows them that education is a possible goal to work towards,” she says.

Ravensbourne pays the student teachers and lends the necessary equipment. James Ward, subject leader for further education, says: “Ravensbourne has a broad outreach department where we look to work with hard-to-reach communities to get them to consider higher education.

“I’d hope that, in the long term, a couple of the homeless students will make it on to one of our access to HE diplomas, which act as a bridge into higher education.”

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The group sold jams and chutneys to make the money needed to exhibit residents’ photographs at the Crouch End Festival

Sean Ashley, 35, a support housing officer at the YMCA and former resident, took part in last year’s workshops, and says they set him up well for future employment. He found the jam business particularly interesting.

“It’s shown me how businesses and organisations are structured, the ins and outs of blogging, setting up businesses, licensing, which we had to deal with when selling the chutneys, and marketing. I’d never done these things before,” says Ashley.

More students should get involved with projects like this, says Slator: “At uni you gain knowledge to prepare you for the future, but it’s good to share it. And from a selfish point of view, it looks amazing on my CV that I taught people photography skills at a YMCA.”

The high point for everyone was the show they put on. “The residents had only been doing it a few months and had a whole exhibition to themselves, whereas I’ve been doing it for four years now and I’ve still had nothing,” she laughs. “They’ve overtaken me now, but I’m proud of them.”