Putting homelessness in the picture

Miriam Ellis of Catching Lives, client Dean Hyman and Daniel Gould of Canterbury City Council launch the Photo Stories booklet.

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A glossy booklet capturing the reality of rough sleepers on the streets of Canterbury was officially launched at homelessness charity Catching Lives.

Photo Stories is the result of a partnership between Bookbinders, a literacy scheme for the vulnerable, and Catching Lives, and funded by an innovation grant from Canterbury City Council.

The booklet was created as a teaching aid to boost literacy levels for the homeless and to raise awareness in Kent schools of issues affecting rough sleepers in the city.

It involved homeless individuals who agreed to be photographed earlier in the summer in their day-to-day lives.

Miriam Ellis, arts co-ordinator for Catching Lives, said: “Three clients were keen to be involved in the project and we spent a day photographing them in places that mean something to them.

“It was a way of them being able to express themselves about being homeless.

“The grim reality is it’s a very difficult situation to be in. It would be good to have another project in the future which shows the realities of being homeless in the winter.”

Daniel Gould, street population co-ordinator for Canterbury City Council, said: “We’re really pleased this resource is going to be taken into schools so that young people are made aware of some of the issues around homelessness.”

Dean Hyman, a Catching Lives client who features in the photo book, said it was good to be involved in the project.

“I’d like to get the word out that there are places like Catching Lives where you can come and they help you,” he said. “You wouldn’t be alive without these places.”

Catching Lives are taking copies of the booklet into schools to lead discussions about homelessness. Other copies are being distributed to groups signed up to the Bookbinders scheme.

Bookbinders provides materials and guidelines on how to set up a book group to encourage reading and sharing thoughts and experiences in a supportive environment.

The scheme is for organisations working with educationally disadvantaged adults – such as the homeless or young people not in education or training (NEETs) – and supported by People’s Postcode Lottery and Salway Grassroots Fund.

A digital version of Catching Lives Photo Stories can be obtained by completing an enquiry form at www.BookBinders.org.uk

Organisations supporting individuals who could benefit from Bookbinders can find out more at the above website or by contacting Michael James at mjames@thekmgroup.co.uk

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