Time to reflect and time to plan

The Accumul8 exhibition opened this year’s Crouch End Festival. The exhibition had visits from schools, project funders, the mayor, local MP’s and councillors and also, most importantly, from people  that have supported the project over the past nine months, from set-up to delivery. The Accumul8 exhibition has been such a success that the dates are being extended and the exhibition will now continue until 6th July.

The exhibition looks professional, with 60 images taken by the residents over the duration of the photography workshops. All the images are framed and numbered and all convey a story of how a group of particular people see their world. What’s even more brilliant is that we have sold quite a few of the photographs. All the money will go to continuing the project and developing it further so that it constantly adds value to the residents’ lives.

And value is a key word. The Accumul8 exhibition is an endorsement of the value of young people, what they can achieve if they are valued and what and who we value in our society and community. Through the Accumul8 opportunity, these young, homeless people were given a voice – a voice that people wanted to listen to and learn from. They were given an opportunity to express themselves and work towards a shared goal, and they had become valued participants of a project that had a direction for them and valued them.

The outcome of this process was an exhibition of their photographs, with people wanting to talk to and engage with them. A disenfranchised group of vulnerable adults had now become the positive, celebrated centre of attention. They were now photographers with work in an exhibition, work that was being admired and that people wanted to purchase and wanted to talk to them about and find out more about them. A very different sensation to feeling “outside”, worthless, rejected and excluded from society and what it had to offer.

This, for me, was the biggest achievement of Accumul8 so far. Seeing and witnessing that transformation in people, their new experiences of pride and joy in themselves and their work and their newly found sense of self – value through being valued by others. It doesn’t take much to make that difference, but that difference makes such a difference and has made such an impact to their lives.