Photography

Manchester one love

15:21 15/06/2017 Posted in Blog, Photography, Writing | Leave a comment

When a major disaster like the Manchester attacks happen, freelance journalists get phone calls from people they have never worked for before.

I got one from cosmopolitan.com.

They wanted a piece detailing the experiences of young women caught up in the bombing.

You can read it here.

It was a humbling experience which gave me an insight into the trauma, and the courage needed to cope.

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Also for Cosmo, I did a photo essay on the concertgoers who braved fears of another terror attack to attend Manchester’s One Love concert – held barely a fortnight later.

It was great to be there.

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journey of faith

20:21 08/10/2015 Posted in Blog, Photography | Leave a comment

I’ve recently returned from the Greek/ Macedonian border, where I was documenting the refugee and migrant crisis.

I was travelling with a delegation of senior UK church leaders, part of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Migrants and refugees queue to cross from Greece to Macedonia at Idomeni

What I will always remember from the trip was the woman in the centre of this picture, Diana.

Amid the squalor and the rubbish, this neat and self-composed young woman stood out.

With her Mango handbag and carton of juice, she looked like she was going shopping, instead of enduring a long, dangerous and uncertain journey across an unwelcoming Europe.

Diana is a lawyer. She told me that she was traveling to Germany with her mother Majida because their house in Damascus had been destroyed and they had nowhere to live.

They were desperate, but very dignified. I think my questions irritated her; I sensed did not want to be treated with pity, or curiosity. She did not want to dwell on her circumstances. She wasn’t interested in talking to me.

She just wanted to get the journey finished so she could continue with her life.

I sincerely hope she has been able to do that.

You can read more about the trip in this piece here.

Christine Elliott talks with Syrian refugee and engineering student Ali IMG_8772 CTBI_Greece-13

 

Pakistan

17:47 29/01/2015 Posted in Blog, Photography | Leave a comment

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I have recently returned from Pakistan, where I was documenting the work of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme, together with social leaders from six different countries.

We visited the Christian village of Shanti Nagar to see inter-faith initiatives being run by local pastor Abdul Masih and Muslim leader Zahid Bashir.

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On February 6, 1997, Shanti Nagar was destroyed by a Muslim mob after a resident allegedly desecrated the Quran.

Churches and schools were attacked, around half of the village’s houses and shops burned down and looted, fields destroyed and livestock looted.

Relationships between Shanti Nagar’s Christians and their Muslim neighbours are now characterised by mistrust and paranoia.

And with the introduction of notorious blasphemy laws creating an increasingly intolerant Pakistan, Christian communities like Shanti Nagar fear for their future.

But the Active Citizens work is providing some small rays of hope; residents told us that relationships are gradually improving.

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the british council

14:03 22/09/2014 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

I have been documenting and photographing the British Council’s Active Citizens programme since 2013.

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Active Citizens is a civil society leadership training scheme which works with thousands of volunteers, activists and development workers across Europe, Asia and Africa.

I have visited training programmes and community development projects in eastern Sudan, Jordan, Pakistan, Serbia, the Outer Hebrides, Sri Lanka, Cardiff and London.

My images, blogs, case studies and articles have been used in annual reports and the website; some of my Sudan pieces can be read here and here.

stigma stories

15:31 05/08/2014 Posted in Blog, Photography, Teaching | Leave a comment

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a project to train a group of people, all on benefits, to speak out against the stigma of poverty.

The idea behind the course, commissioned by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam, was to create a network of spokespeople who could talk about the reality of life lived at the sharp end of welfare reform.

These spokespeople would powerfully challenge the current scrounger/ skiver narrative.

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As well as running six workshops with the group, I set up a website, www.stigmastories.com, to tell the stories of individual members.

I organised an event to introduce them to the community, which included a panel debate to discuss some of the issues they raised.

Listening to the panel discussion at the NICE event

The project has been a huge success. As well as receiving coverage in the Independent newspaper, there were also articles in Salford Online, the Salford Star, the Big Issue, and the Daily Mirror.

They are being interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Radio 5 Live; four documentary companies, including one from Channel 4′s Cutting Edge strand, want to tell the group’s story.

The group are still regularly meeting, and are in the process of becoming a formally recognised organisation.

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sri lanka

18:36 04/03/2014 Posted in Blog, Photography | Leave a comment

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In January I visited Colombo, Sri Lanka, to photograph and write about the work of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme – with whom I have previously visited Sudan, Serbia and the Outer Hebrides.

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north yorkshire

13:43 19/11/2013 Posted in Blog, Photography, Writing | Leave a comment

The final piece in my austerity series for the Big Issue in the North – this time, on North Yorkshire.

To read the full article, click here.

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stoke

17:24 04/11/2013 Posted in Blog, Photography, reports | Leave a comment

To read my Big Issue in the North piece about the impact of austerity on Stoke, click here.

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‘it’s a constant worry’

22:05 22/10/2013 Posted in Blog, Photography, Writing | Leave a comment

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Some pictures from a recent trip to North Yorkshire for the final piece in my Big Issue in the North series on austerity, to run over the next three weeks.

I’ve revisited three areas – the others being Stoke and Goldthorpe, South Yorkshire – for an update on how they have fared since I first visited to see the impact of cuts in 2011.

North Yorkshire is richer and more resilient. Yet a growing elderly and increasingly vulnerable population will sadly bear the brunt of cuts, which are focusing on care services and rural transport. Services have already disappeared.

I first met Christine Harker, above, on a bus in 2011. She epitomises the flinty spirit of the Dales. But without her weekly link to the outside world, she would be lost.

“We have never been without a service – but now we don’t know whether we will have a service. It’s a worrying thing for old people. The majority of them don’t have families, while some of them have families that live a long way away.”

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Sheila Robinson, 87, still lives in the picturesque rented row of cottages she did when I first met her  in 2011. She is a full-time carer for her daughter, who has learning difficulties and mental health problems.

She, too, is concerned about what the future brings. “When you are told that things are going to change it’s a constant worry.”

Volunteers are rallying around to preserve services. But when you are dealing with the most vulnerable people, living in some of the most remote areas of England, it feels like a real risk to run services on goodwill.

you matter

17:23 16/10/2013 Posted in Blog, Photography | Leave a comment

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Really pleased with progress on the final report for The Good Society – a research project I’ve been working on since 2011.

The black and white images look really strong, and fit well with the text. It’s often difficult to envisage whether something will work, but the designers Fieldwork have done a good job.

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It’s a first draft, so there’s some work to be done; especially on editing the text down so that it fits into a format that is easy to read. Rather than create a stuffy, text-heavy report that no-one will read, the plan is to create a newspaper filled with the images and stories gathered on my visits to community development projects across the UK.

As it nears the final stage, I’m really excited to see how it will look.

 

the kibbutz

17:28 21/02/2013 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

I visited Kibbutz Ein Harod in Israel in May 2012 – I also revisited the nearby Kibbutz Massada, where I had spent two months as an 18-year-old volunteer in 1995.

The kibbutz I had such fond memories of is now semi-derelict. The international volunteers had been replaced by Thai guest workers.

While in Ein Harod, I was very struck by how the Israeli mentality is shaped by their own definition of freedom; what it means to be free, what price is worth paying for that freedom, and how important freedom is to one’s sense of identity.

The kibbutz is still a very potent symbol of that definition of freedom; and both are unique to Israel.

Yet the kibbutz are changing; out of step with a modern, increasingly consumerist society, their collective ideals have been abandoned – and their political role of settling the land has been taken over by more fundamentalist settler communities in the occupied territories.

Perhaps in some way their position reflects the majority of Israelis; tired of the fight, yet defined by their circumstances, they are aware that the future is uncertain, but they continue as they are – because, well, what is the alternative?

Gil Becker is an electrician on Ein Harod kibbutz.

Here he talks about what the kibbutz means to him and his country.

a fair voice

15:11 16/01/2013 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

In 2010, mum-of-one Sarah Whitehead, 27, of Weaste, Salford, completed the Salford Apprentice course.

The initiative, which teaches participants about politics, local government, and funding, is designed to empower people with the knowledge they need to make positive changes to their lives and communities.

Inspired by what she learnt, Sarah subsequently established the BCD Community Gardens Association and transformed her rubbish-filled alley into a community garden. Surrounding streets have since been inspired to create their own gardens.

In March 2011, Sarah set up the Weaste Area Forum. As well as providing a democratic voice for local people, the forum have also created a jobs centre, community gym, and cafe in their local social club.

Sarah is now a mentor for other Salford Apprentices.

This case study was commissioned by Church Action on Poverty, whose Community Pride Unit runs the Salford Apprentice course in partnership with Salford University.

To read my Big Issue in the North story about Sarah’s journey and the Community Pride Unit, click here; to read about an article about her work with ex-offenders published in Mule newspaper, click here

seedley and langworthy trust

12:45 16/01/2013 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

The Seedley and Langworthy Trust was first created in 1997 to support the regeneration of a deprived area of Salford, this year named the second poorest in the UK.

After receiving a three-year £390,000 Lottery grant in 2009, SALT was able to develop a number of innovative projects.

These included Seedley and Langworthy In Bloom, which has won the North West Regeneration category of the national In Bloom competition for the last decade. SALT also provided a benefits advice, advocacy support, and a job search service.

However, following the end of their funding, SALT is now facing an uncertain future. The community are deeply concerned that the good work of the past few years will slowly be undone.

These case studies were developed in July 2011 as part of a joint anti-tax evasion campaign by Church Action on Poverty and Christian Aid.

The Gerry Stone transcript is available here, the Irene Travis transcript here.

         

stoke

12:26 16/01/2013 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

Pits, potteries and their dust-clogged, dangerous environments once made Stoke a sick city. Yet as traditional industry has declined, the trade with the biggest occupational hazards is now unemployment.

Over a quarter of the city’s children live in totally workless houses, incomes are a third lower than the national average, and one in four adults of working age receives workless benefits.

The city’s death rate is more than a quarter higher than the national average.

On 25 February 2011, the council approved plans to cut 710 jobs, slashing £36 million from the 2012 budget. These cuts will make Stoke the third most vulnerable area in the country. The city is due to shed 1,870 public sector jobs before 2016.

Casualties of the cuts included Bucknall City Farm, closed by the council on March 6, 2011 to make a saving of £143,000.

The farm, home to a menagerie of horses, donkeys, rare breed pigs, goats, rabbits and birds since 1980, was a much needed source of pride for an area in the top ten per cent of the most deprived wards in the country, and provided volunteering opportunities for hundreds of local disabled adults.

Now the donkey has been moved to a sanctuary, and the animals have been rehoused.

The Etruria Industrial Museum, located in what was the Victorian equivalent of Silicon Valley, is also threatened. Cuts have forced enthusiasts to set up a charitable trust to run the museum and its much valued education programme.

Read my 2011 Big Issue in the North piece about austerity in Stoke here; the 2013 update is here.

 

goldthorpe

21:22 03/07/2012 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

The former mining village of Goldthorpe, south Yorkshire, has faced high unemployment since its pit, one of the last to close, finally shut in 1994.

The colliery that once employed thousands is now a wasteland used by dog walkers.

The still struggling area is once again facing troubled times. Between 2011 to 2014, Government austerity measures will force Barnsley Council to axe 1,300 jobs and save £45m.

In 2011, plans to regenerate Goldthorpe and build a new school, homes and shops had been shelved. Rows of derelict houses sat waiting to be developed.

When I revisited in 2013, despite some developments, the houses remained boarded up.

Read my 2011 Big Issue in the North piece about Goldthorpe here; the 2013 update is here.

Michael Webster, 49, is an unemployed plumber from Goldthorpe.

He took me on a tour of his hometown.

the good society

17:34 29/05/2012 Posted in Photography | Leave a comment

The ‘Big Society’ was one of the flagship ideas of the UK’s Coalition Government.

Churches Together in Britain & Ireland instead wanted to learn about the UK’s ‘Good Society’; the thousands of people who are committed to making where they live a better place.

I travelled to seven very different destinations – Cornwall, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Belfast, Newcastle and Swansea – to photograph and interview those working at a local level.

For more information, go to www.agoodsociety.org

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