Where There is Light

Participatory photography with limb-affected ex-service personnel

PROJECT SUMMARY:
‘Where There is Light’ is a participatory photography project for limb-affected ex-service personnel, delivered in different parts of the UK with Blesma. It provides an introduction to photography, and to developing skills for veterans to share their stories and perspectives.

Year:
2019

Project Location:
Durham, Nottingham, Winchester, UK

Project Managers:
Tom Elkins

Facilitators:
Tom Elkins, Kate Watson

Partners:
Blesma – The Limbless Veterans

Funder:
Blesma – The Limbless Veterans

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Project description:
As part of photography development courses which Blesma provides for its members, PhotoVoice delivered three regional 4-day training projects that provided a beginner’s introduction to photography and story-telling.

Each 4-day training took participants through basic photography skills and supported them to produce their own photographic and narrative-based work through activities that explore themes such as community, identity, support and communication. This initial project phase will act as a pilot for the potential development of further courses to support members’ progression to an intermediate and advanced level.


The issue:
Blesma has over 3,000 members in the UK who have sustained serious injuries in service, including injuries affecting their limbs and eyes. Staying active after injury is essential to making a good recovery and maintaining a sense of health and wellbeing.
Limb-affected veterans and their families face challenges far beyond that of the physical injuries sustained in, or because of, service. Photographic storytelling allows participants to explore themes related to their journeys through a new medium; building skills, confidence and insight into both collective and individual experience.


Delivery:
The project was delivered across three groups across the UK (in Durham, Nottingham, Winchester) from March – May 2019. The groups were each open to 12 members – mixed gender, mixed age-range and mixed positions and experiences within the military.

Each group participated in an intensive 4-day course which focused on both thematic discussions and practical photography shoots, the overall aim being to build the necessary skills to share participants individual stories. The workshops saw some strong and powerful images shared within the groups, as participants strengthened their storytelling with the support of the powerful group dynamic the course established.


Project Outputs:
On completion of the pilot phase of the project, an exhibition took place on 9th June 2019 at Heythrop Park Resort, as part of the Blesma Members Weekend. A total of 30 images were displayed, which participants were able to discuss with an audience of their peers, creating a real sense of narrative within the room. The images have since been used as an exhibition at PhotoVoice’s offices in London.


PARTICIPANT FEEDBACK:
“Before this course, I had never looked at photography in this manner, but it has a whole new meaning for me now.”

“I feel that it has given me a bit more confidence to re-evaluate my photography and given me more drive to pick up my camera again, enabling me to look at expressing myself more through photography.”

“PhotoVoice covered the technical stuff and put it into a language we could all understand, having no problem with explaining things many times if needed.”


Header Image: © Jessie 2019 | PhotoVoice | Blesma | ‘Where There is Light’ | UK

“Yesterday a security guard explained how he organised a disabled spot for a student who is now a teacher. 

It made me realise I am now at the beginning of my journey with ‘POSITIVE’ hope for the future.”

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