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Photo exhibition launched in Tunbridge Wells with homeless people trained by Royal Photographic Society

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An exhibition has launched in Tunbridge Wells, displaying pictures captured by people living in homelessness hostels in Kent.

Those taking part were given disposable cameras and training from the Royal Photographic Society. They then documented their daily lives over the course of the summer.

KMTV went along to the exhibition at Royal Victoria Place

The project was a unique partnership between the Royal Photographic Society and Look Ahead homelessness hostels.

Eight people took part in the training and each were provided with a £20 disposable camera to capture moments in their daily lives.

The 'Our Lens on Life' exhibition is a commemorative zine (homemade magazine) of summer 2021 - from a tranquil lake to a grinning dog, they represent the real lives of those who have lived on the streets and Look Ahead homes across Kent.

One of the artists, Marnie, was introduced to Look Ahead hostels at the age of 22.

Marnie showing friends around the exhibition
Marnie showing friends around the exhibition

She said: "Being on this course has made me more confident and I've really enjoyed everything that has happened. It's a bit of a shock really to think that people are interested in the pictures you take.

"I've suffered with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), being homeless hasn't helped that.

"Doing the photography course has really helped me gain my confidence and build up my self-esteem, alongside the support workers.

"I think the thing I realised is that you don't need to try and take a picture, it just happens."

With those experiencing homelessness so often made the objects of photographs, this project aims to flip the camera and show how these people see the world, rather than how they are seen.

Steve Kennett hopes it will change perspectives on rough sleepers
Steve Kennett hopes it will change perspectives on rough sleepers

Steve Kennett, a support worker at Look Ahead said: "With the photographs, it's like you've captured that moment and it's caught forever.

"They come with very low self-esteem, very low self-worth and to see them light up is great - the effect this has had on them is nothing but positive.

"I've been homeless on the streets and lived in hostels but there were never these kinds of opportunities for me 20 years ago.

"Things have moved on a lot in a very forward and positive way."

Steve also hopes that the exhibition will open the minds of those viewing the artwork.

The work is displayed in Royal Victoria Place until October 28
The work is displayed in Royal Victoria Place until October 28

He added: "A lot of people associate homelessness with drug addicts or alcoholics, but it can be a simple thing like a relationship break up.

"Lately with the pandemic it can be where people have been on furlough, fell behind on wages or fell behind on rent and found themselves homeless that way.

"There's an old saying that anyone is only three pay cheques away from homelessness."

Look Ahead deliver homelessness services in west Kent on behalf of Kent County Council.

Donna Pearson, head of operations in Kent said: "Despite the many challenges they face in life, they have embraced the project with open arms and the results speak for themselves.”

'Adventures of the Eye of Horus' by Jay
'Adventures of the Eye of Horus' by Jay

The work by Antony, Christopher, Jay, Jayde, Lewis, Marnie, Sean and Stephen will be on display at Royal Victoria Place until Thursday, October 28.

To view the photographs from the exhibition, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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