A project with young people in Glasgow challenging social stereotypes surrounding homelessness and capturing how homelessness impacts upon their lives and their hopes for the future.
Brian Sweeney, Christina Kernohan
The Gannochy Trust, Awards for All, Scotland, The Robertson Trust
A significant proportion of people affected by homelessness are young vulnerable individuals. In 2003 the Scottish Parliament passed legislation stating that by 2012 everyone who is homeless would have the right to a home. However, in 2009-10 more than 10,000 young people (16-24) were still accepted as homeless by Local Authorities. It was feared that even once the 2012 commitment comes into force and all these young people are automatically a priority, there still won’t be enough homes for them.
According to the latest figures from Shelter Scotland, there were over 9,000 homeless applications made by young people in 2016-17.
Waiting was a project run in collaboration with Fairbridge with young people affected by homelessness in Scotland. It aimed to raise awareness of the issue of youth homelessness in Scotland and challenge social stereotypes surrounding homelessness by allowing young homeless persons to define their circumstances, how homelessness impacts upon their lives and their hopes for the future.
Through peer-mentoring and the development of a project toolkit, the project also aimed to develop the self esteem and personal and social skills of the young people involved and develop innovative and effective methods for using participatory photography with excluded young people.
“This has been such a fantastic experience for me. It has helped me overcome some of my fears and really built my confidence so much so that I am looking at starting a college course. I think this would be a great experience for all young people as it makes you see things from a different perspective.” – Gemma, Project Participant
PhotoVoice worked with 11 young people who were in transition between being looked after and accommodated by a local authority or homeless charity, and securing (waiting for) their own tenancy and engaged in Fairbridge Glasgow’s programme.
Participants attended a 4-day residential photography course with renowned photographers and facilitators Brian Sweeney and Christina Kernohan. Following a team-building trip which included, night photography using glowsticks and white water rafting, young people attended a series of twice-weekly participatory workshops in which they travelled around Glasgow creating photo essays about their lives, presenting them to staff and students at Glasgow School of Art.
Through the workshops, young people were supported to achieve Bronze level arts awards and took part in a peer-education course, where they were trained to lead photographic workshops with other homeless young people in their own hostels.
In December 2010, the young people impressed final year students of Photography and Visual Communications at Glasgow School of Art with a presentation of their work (and a tour of the Art School) before delivering peer education workshops with more young homeless people at the Quarriers Stopover Centre in Glasgow.
“Compellingly poignant” – The Big Issue
In order to reach a variety of audiences and raise awareness of the issue of youth and homelessness, the photographic work produced was exhibited in public libraries or similarly well-trafficked public spaces across Scotland.
WAITING 2011 TOURING EXHIBITION
Platform sites on the Glasgow Subway | Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow | Edinburgh Room, Central Library, Edinburgh | Central Library, Wellgate Dundee | Ninians Community Library, St. Ninians | Bannockburn Community Library, Bannockburn | Drymen Community Library, Drymen | Balfron Library, Balfron | Dunblane Community Library, Dunblane | Bridge of Allan Community Library, Bridge of Allan | Central Library, Stirling | Plean Community Library, Plean | Cowie Community Library, Cowie | Fallin Community Library, Fallin
As part of a targeted advocacy campaign, the touring exhibition was attended by over 100 MSPs, policy-makers and influencers and covered widely in national media including The Big Issue, The Hour (STV), BBC News online and BBC Radio Scotland.
“The Waiting Project with PhotoVoice allows young people to tell their story about their own environment in their own way. The images are very powerful and are provoking great discussion among the people who see them.” – Hugh O’Donnell MSP
Project outputs were developed into an innovative toolkit which was distributed across the UK to support other individuals and agencies working in the fields of youth, homelessness and participatory photography.
Feature Image: “That could have gone to someone that needed it.” © © Kerry McCaughey 2010 | PhotoVoice | Fairbridge | ‘Waiting’ | UK