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The Accumulate group try out yoga at Level Six Yoga Studio, Peckham Levels

The Accumulate Photography Workshops 2018

The Accumulate Photography Workshops 2018 are nearly over for another year. They start in January and end mid May with the exhibition,  and, this year, two things have really stood out, friendship and trust.

Friendship: We have people from different hostel groups, different countries and different age groups this year, more so than previously. We have an ex basket ball player from Kuwait, a retired gardener, a gospel singer, a chef and a cricket fan amongst our group. They come every week, sun, rain or snow, and what has been really apparent is that friendships have been made, people are hanging out with different people, they meet outside of the Accumulate photography workshops and they all “high five” each other when they arrive, and hug at the end.

Friendship is so positive and sometimes we can take it for granted. Friendship  counters loneliness – which can be a trigger for mental health issues and depression, and it means you are connected to other people in a positive way. The Accumulate participants are not connected together because they live in a hostel and have the same life circumstance. They are connected together through their love of doing something creative, they communicate and share themselves through this, and they witness and experience a bond with people who they look forward to seeing each week and spending time with.

Mask making at the Accumulate "Identity" Workshop which took place at The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Mask making at the Accumulate “Identity” Workshop which took place at The Victoria and Albert Museum.

Trust: When we began the Accumulate 2018 photography workshops, there was a wariness, aloofness and inhibition that spread across the group. No one wanted to put their hand up to ask a question, there was a bit of “them and us” going on and there definitely wasn’t a sense of trust or security. Everyone started off a bit unsure of what they had embarked on, a bit unsure of themselves and definitely unsure of the other people in the room. Slowly, trust has built up. Trust between the participants, the participants and the student helpers and between the participants, student helpers and the tutors. Once that trust began to take place we started to introduce other creative activities, beyond photography. The group made visual art in response to the Basquiet exhibition at The Barbican, made their own protest t.shirts for a London Fashion Week activity and made masks for the “Identity and Culture” talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

But out of all of this creativity, one activity has stood out above all else and has been the emotional and rewarding highlight of the project so far – Yoga. This past week the Accumulate group had their first yoga lesson. That this actually happened is sign that these 18 people, the Accumulate participants, now all trust each other, feel good about themselves and have found their self confidence to try something new and outside of their comfort zone. This was is the biggest achievement of the project so far. It also symbolises what Accumulate stands for and sets out to do – to build confidence, trust and empowerment through creativity. Seeing the Accumulate group participate in a yoga lesson, love it and want to do more just shows just how far they all have come.

The Accumulate group try out yoga at Level Six Yoga Studio, Peckham Levels

The Accumulate group try out yoga at Level Six Yoga Studio, Peckham Levels

 

Tonya's poster at the DECAY zine workshop

The Accumulate DECAY ZINE Issue 2

The past week we have been running a series of ZINE workshops with residents of Evolve Housing‘s Stockwell hostel. It is always a bit of a stress, not knowing if the project is going to appeal or, worse still, whether anyone is going to turn up and actually do anything. Well, the fears didn’t last long, every day people would turn up, sit round a shared table, talk and share insights, stories and their creativity with each other.

Getting creative at the DECAY zine workshop

Getting creative at the DECAY zine workshop

It became a very meaningful activity, trust was developed and creative content was produced for the DECAY zine which was beautiful, emotional, personal and incredible. They produced drawings, illustrations, poems, photographs, stories and collages and it will now be a hard task to edit, select and curate these for Issue 2 of the Accumulate DECAY zine. Tonya came to the DECAY workshop after getting a new job, and she created this lovely poster which just sums up how great she felt!

Tonya's poster at the DECAY zine workshop

Tonya’s poster at the DECAY zine workshop


The start of "reverse sunset" by Tia at the DECAY workshops

The start of “reverse sunset” by Tia at the DECAY workshops

We finished the week of with a portrait and drawing workshop at Youth Subculture. The group created their own backdrops and then had their portraits taken in front of their creative work.

Aaron's backdrop for DECAY zine portrait

Aaron’s backdrop for DECAY zine portrait

It was a very empowering session, in fact the whole project has really encapsulated what Accumulate is all about – using creativity as a tool for empowerment and progressing in life. DECAY will come out in September, so be sure to grab a copy and find out just how much talent there is, that is hidden, and just needs a helping hand to be enjoyed, appreciated and admired. It’s going to be great!

Accumul8 and Birdsong London at London Fashion Week

When Accumul8 did the London Fashion Week project, Birdsong London came along too to talk to the group about their own social enterprise.

Birdsong is a project which sells fashion products made by women’s groups which actively work to improve women’s lives. The meeting of the two groups was also a way to introduce the issues surrounding women, fashion, identity and empowerment.

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The talk went down a storm, and the group were so interested in what founder Ruba Huleihel had to say, that they asked her to stay on and carry on talking after the photography workshop was finished. Check out their blog about Accumul8. Thanks to Ruba of Birdsong for being so brilliant and inspiring!!