3. Research

Here will be links, statistics, figures and details about poverty and homelessness as well as about other photographers who undertook the same or similar projects and explored the subject further.

While I was brainstorming for my idea I came across an interesting photographer called Thomas Hawk who created a project called ‘ 2$ dollar project’ which probably was my main inspiration. In his Blog he tells a little more about his idea:

I decided that I was going to start a new project. I’m calling the project dollar portraits. From this week going forward until the day that I die I am going to offer  to anyone who asks me for money in exchange for their portrait. While I’m taking their portrait I’m going to ask their name and try to learn a little bit about them. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life — assuming that I can afford to. See the full page here. 

He also adds that the idea behind this project isn’t because he wants to show how bad is the life of the homeless people, but rather he wants to celebrate other human beings as human beings. He also says that he likes interacting with people and thinks it is a good thing. It is an interesting thought behind the idea, however it is slightly different from what I have in mind. But still it is a very interesting project for the research purpose. I really like his work and the idea behind it and thankfully because of 21st century’s instant messaging ability, I have sent Tom a message for some tips and advice. Here’s what he said:

Hi Katrina. I don’t approach them, they approach me. I’m just out doing my shooting and inevitably some will approach me and ask me for money. That’s when I tell them about my project. 🙂

That would be ideal for my project, but perhaps Lincoln isn’t the biggest city and the percentage of homeless people comparing to the situation in America isn’t as bad as here. According to statisticbrain.com total number of homeless people is 1,750,000 whereas in England the number is significantly lower 53,500 were accepted as homeless and in ‘priority need’, not counting Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. It is hard to judge and compare, mainly because the population is much bigger in America than in England. As well as it is difficult to ascertain because estimates vary depending on the methodology used to describe what is homeless. Whether the person slept roughly one night or lives on the streets for longer period, not forgetting those who lives at their friend’s and family’s houses.

Here is some of Tom’s work:

Thomas Hawk images thomas

or check his full set here here!

Going back to the statistics, Guardian produced an interactive map of England which shows numbers of homeless people in every region. Thankfully in Lincolnshire the number is significantly smaller than for example in Cornwall. In Lincoln the number is 37 households were accepted as homeless and 24 households are in temporary accommodation. However it is again hard to judge because the numbers shown are only from October to December 2011.

Here you can see the print screen of the map:

homeless map of Englandlegends

However in places like Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds and London the numbers are quite higher which can be seen as dark red on the map.

However according to Guardian article dated March 2013, there were a 14 % rise of homeless people, although charities said:

Charities have warned that official figures showing a 14% rise in people classed as homeless are just the “tip of the iceberg”, because they fail to capture huge numbers who have been displaced from their home and are living with friends, in hostels or on the streets.

However the situation will get worse since the housing benefits cuts and changes to other social security benefits came into force, which resulted in many families moving out of privately rented accommodations as well as cuts to local homelessness services, not mentioning the rise of  unemployment and economic downturn in general. There was a 44% increase in households who were accepted as homeless after having their homes repossessed, and a 39% year-on-year increase in the numbers of people seeking help from the council after having their short-term tenancy terminated.

The shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey, said:

“The government’s economic policies are failing, leading to rising unemployment, increases in fuel bills and the biggest squeeze on family incomes in a generation.

“Combined with the government’s reckless changes to benefits, it was inevitable that homelessness would rise and that it will continue to rise.”

From the finding it also needs to be mentioned that the number of young people who sleep on the streets or stays in hostels are increasing drastically and many of them are not registered with the councils. The estimated number is around 60, 000 people from the age of 17 to 24. But it doesn’t get any easier with the age, when the health isn’t as good as when you’re 17 or those families with kids. In the same article a woman of 38 years old describing her story of how she became homeless with the little boy aged 5. They cut her housing benefits and the landlord wanted £100 more per week which she simply couldn’t afford, she sought help from the council but they couldn’t help her because she still had 2 months rent left with the current land lord and said that it is not emergency situation. How is it not an emergency situation if in 2 months time she will be living on the street? After court hearings and negotiating with bailiffs and councils they have agreed to put her in the hostel. She lives in a tiny room which she shares with her baby boy and calls her self lucky because other families share the tiny room with three other children including disabled people.  This just shows that the statistics numbers are not completely accurate and the number of homeless people and people in need of accommodation is much higher. It breaks my heart hearing this horror stories and realising that some people are so in need of just standard accommodation where they can be warm and safe. The thing which scares me even more is the fact that many of us are just one cheque away from being homeless and I want nothing more but to raise awareness among people and start making the difference in their own community.

The ideal outcome of the project would be to host little exhibitions across Lincolnshire combining with some charities to help to raise them money. As well use the social networking websites and the power of Internet to start raising money for charities. At the minute I have contacted a few charities however one was especially of my interest because it was another inspiration for the project especially their recent campaign. Here are the pictures produced by passage charity to raise awareness of homeless people in London and I truly believe that it’s brilliant idea. It’s humorous yet sorrowful and definitely makes you stop and think. I definitely going to combine it with my project, however at this stage I haven’t yet decided but if I wouldn’t be able to, I definitely going to do for my other projects. The charities website  http://www.passage.org.uk where the merchandise for raising money can be ordered and other important information can be found.

Here is their work, found on Reddit which has a lot of attention from users and many positive comments had been left.

www.passage.org.uk www.passage.org.uk www.passage.org.uk


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