Photojournalism Hub x Riverside Studios 03rd June

Mariusz Śmiejek is an independent photographer, visual storyteller, and educator with over 20 years of experience specializing in capturing the raw narratives of human and social conditions. Renowned for documenting a wide range of subjects including post-conflict communities, refugee crises, child slavery, human trafficking, and systemic abuse. Recipient of prestigious awards in international photography competitions, his work has been exhibited globally and featured in renowned publications globally including The New York Times, National Geographic, and the British Journal of Photography, among many others. www.mariuszsmiejek.com

Not Surrendering tells a visual story specifically about the struggle of loyalists to shape a distinct identity in post-conflict Northern Ireland. The documentary narrative introduces us to the daily lives of the local British working-class as well as members of its illegal paramilitary groups. Recognised as terrorist organizations until recently, these associations still carry weight, sow fear, and control Northern Ireland’s Ulster.
By focusing on the spaces which the book’s subjects inhabit, aspects of their daily lives, and the particularities of their neighbourhoods separated by ominous ‘peace walls,’ the photography brings to the fore the psychological state of siege which permeates working-class districts in Northern Ireland. The story also spotlights the atmosphere of despair which accompanies each successive generation – trapped socially and mentally in unprocessed traumas from which it cannot escape.
The aim of the Not Surrendering is to increase awareness and knowledge about processes of reconciliation in post-conflict societies that are divided territorially, politically, nationally, and religiously.
The story this volume highlights the difficulties NGO and other grassroots projects face while working with difficult youth from families deeply involved in the conflict.
The photographic images illustrate the tensions arising during celebrations of national identity, during which especially members of paramilitary groups openly fan the flames of hatred towards their neighbours. This directly affects the indoctrination of the youngest who actively participate in numerous events of this type, leading often to recruitment of young people into paramilitary associations or organised criminal groups.
This has been a personal, individual project from the very beginning to the end (2010-2020); partly supported at the very end stage by Artists Emergency Programme grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and The National Lottery.

Roland Ramanan is a London based documentary photographer, born in 1966 with a background in music and education. He developed a passion for photography around 2010, initially through street photography. In 2012 he started a long term documentary project on a vulnerable group of people who gravitate towards a corner of east London called Gillett Square which is to be published by Dewi Lewis as the book “Dominoes”. This work has been featured in Vice magazine among others and has won various awards including being shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society documentary awards 2023. In 2022 he was one of the finalists in the Portrait of Britain awards. Roland’s current project focuses on the London roller skate scene and its relationship to black culture. https://rolandramanan.com/

Dominoes is a unique and vibrant mosaic of the lives that float in and around a particular corner of Hackney in London’s East End. The book is populated by intimate pictures of people who have experienced addiction and pain as well as the deep joys of the community of which they are a part. Gillett Square was derelict and underdeveloped for years until, in the 1990s it became an experiment in urban regeneration. Like the Dominoes they play in the square, those lives are often precarious. For ten years from 2012 I was privileged to be allowed into the lives and homes of some of those I have met, to photograph their fights and struggles; their families and their lovers. Some of these people are now my friends and some are no longer with us. The participants I am closest to form the heart of the book and I’m sure that bond will continue. The work gives us honest glimpses into lives that we may often turn away from but always with a sense of hope. Dominoes touches on universal themes of love, death, hope and the evolution of urban communities.

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Angelo Scelfo: The Strip


Italy: Marina di Acate – April 2024.

It has been called the ‘transformed belt’ and consists of a set of territories in southern Sicily where greenhouse farming activities have replaced the original crops. This transformation has led to the partial destruction of dune environments with the consequent pollution of the coast, the loss of biodiversity and a strong marginalisation of migrant communities. In fact, migrants are the majority of the workforce.

Those who work in the greenhouses are also hidden from the rest of the community as they live, in most cases, in rural settings and in employer-provided housing that is often shacks or company sheds. Throughout the area, entry into the labour market is a profoundly precarious process, marked by daily relationships and articulated solely in terms of exploitative relationships.

In recent decades, the number of greenhouses on the island has practically tripled. An example is the case of Santa Croce di Camerina (RG) in which has the highest percentage ratio of migrant population employed in agriculture and the municipality hosts half of the foreign population registered in the province. A simple estimate of the area covered by the greenhouses, which changes every year, shows an area of about 61 square kilometres surrounding the town.

The NGO Emergency operates in the entire area of the transformed belt. In addition to having a psychological support programme for the labourers, it is vital for those who otherwise would not have access to basic health services.

Finally, there is the environmental factor. Greenhouse agriculture requires an intensive use of pesticides and fertilisers that lead to a progressive loss of fertility and a high rate of soil consumption. Residues seem to be a determining factor in the pollution of water analysed by ISPRA. The institute calculates that at least 66,176 tonnes of fertilisers are released annually into the island’s agricultural systems. To this is added atmospheric pollution from dioxins due to the numerous fires lit at the end of the day to burn greenhouse maintenance waste often made of plastic.

Further links:

https://www.instagram.com/lo_scelf

https://www.facebook.com/paul.ferdinand.984

Bio
Angelo Scelfo, Italian photojournalist based in Bologna (Italy). Born in October 1979 in Bologna and grown up in Sicily. I studied philosophy at Università degli studi di Palermo and photography at ISFCI in Rome. Since 2005 I have been involved in photography, today I dedicate myself full time to photojournalism as a freelancer. I also like to write: the world of self-productions and fanzines has always been the most congenial to me. I live between Bologna, Rome and Palermo.

Angelo Scelfo photographer

INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER

+39 351 6151659

Gendered face of London’s housing crisis

Photos and text by Cinzia D’Ambrosi

After years of documenting the lives of individuals in insecure housing in London, a clear pattern emerges: a significant portion of this demographic comprises single mothers in either no or low-paid employment. This raises the pressing question: why are so many women and their children being failed so profoundly?

Melissa fled domestic violence, seeking refuge far from her former home. However, living in a shipping container with her three young children has aggravated her depression and anxiety, failing to provide the safety and comfort she desperately needs.

Since 2006, Francesca recounts: “I have been evicted 3 times. The first time, I was living in a private rented accommodation through Hammersmith and Fulham council. I was living with my two children and expecting a third child when I was handed over an eviction notice. I was made homeless and then the council offered me a home in East London. My only financial support was my work as a mobile hairdresser and my clients, my children’s school and everyone I could ask any support to, is living in West London, however I had no where to go. I checked the place and it was rife with crime and I did not want my children to live there so I refused. Then they looked for a place for me in the private rented sector. I was told to go to Ealing Housing Team and at first they sent me to Willesden Green to live in one room. We had to move out and had to rent a storage for all my things. I could not live there with the children going to school miles away. Everyday they were late at school and getting detention so I went back to the council and told them of these challenges and that was when I was allocated a container flat in Meath Court in west London.”

Francesca and her three young children have been evicted many times before being moved to Meath Court.

Francesca has 3 children who in their entire lives have only lived in temporary accommodations. Living in the shipping containers is very difficult with no space for any privacy. One of the children, who has asthma, sleeps in the kitchen. On the very first day they moved into the container, he had an asthmatic attack.

Families that live in the containers report their shock when they first arrived at the site, some at first not realising that the shipping containers were to become their homes.

“How could it be humanly possible that containers could be offered as homes?”

Nathalie Bangama, from Congo, with three children, moved to Meath Court after a fire destroyed her home last year. Despite living in Ealing for over 15 years, she was shocked to be offered shipping containers as housing instead of promised flats. She couldn’t believe it, knowing even in Congo, women and children aren’t housed this way.
Nathalie is a single parent and she has had to strlie is a single parent and she has had to struggle with being on her own with three children and with the awful circumstances of her living conditions at Meath Court.

Similarly to many other women, Nathalie could not believe her eyes when she was given shipping containers as a home. “Even in Congo, we don’t house women and children in shipping containers.” Nathalie Bangama, originally from Congo, has three children 15 years old, 4 years old and 9 months and she ended up at Meath Court after her house caught fire. When she was given the keys to the container flat, she was crying and crying. She was told that within 6 months, she would be given a proper flat, but 2 years later she is still waiting.

Another resident of Meath Court is Melissa, a victim of domestic violence that was to be housed, in a different borough under the protection scheme. Melissa and her three small children were housed in the shipping containers. It has led her to depression and anxieties. Living in a container, it has not helped her to heal from her traumatic experiences. Instead, it is continuously making her feel unsafe and deeply anxious about herself and her children as the environment is characterized by rampant drug use, theft, and a pervasive sense of insecurity.

Like herself, many women in Meath Court have experienced sexual harassment and incidents of intimidation by drug users using the shipping containers as a space to deal, or to sleep for the night. “There was an incident of a woman falling down from the stairs and she is currently in coma – Melissa recounts. And my front door was tempered and broken, she continues- and I have taped it with a black bin bag and I am still waiting for someone from the council to come to repair it. I feel very anxious about my safety and that of my children.” Melissa’s broken door was not repaired at the time of my interview with her, weeks after the incident. Her rent is £370.55 + £19.05 service charge per week to live in shipping containers without a secure front door.

When Zara received the one-bedroom flat, she had just given birth. Her baby was only a week old. Given the top floor, she found walls riddled with bullet-like holes from the previous tenant’s mental health struggles. It was a frightening, lonely, and disheartening experience for a first-time mother.

When Zara was given the one bedroom flat she had just given birth. Her baby was one week old. She was given the last floor and one which all the walls were plastered by bullet like holes. She was told that the previous resident was suffering mental health issues and was using a hammer to bang the walls. “It felt scary, lonely and very disheartening for a first time mother who had just given birth.” Since living in the container, her wellbeing is deteriorating. She has pleaded to be allocated even in another one-bedroom in the containers, one without the violent markings on all the walls, but her pleas have gone unanswered.

Following the unanswered calls for the installment of security cameras or the placement of a security guard at Meath Court, women have resorted to create a WhatsApp group to ensure each other’s safety by sharing their whereabouts.

As policymakers and stakeholders seek solutions to London’s homelessness crisis, it is crucial to recognize and address the specific challenges faced by women. Failing to do so not only perpetuates the cycle of homelessness, but also deepens existing inequalities within society.

The question arises: why have so many women and their children been failed so miserably? Is it due to perceived vulnerability and social standing, perpetuating prejudices that hinder their access to decent living conditions?

All images ©Cinzia D’Ambrosi

Documentary Photography Workshops for young people

We offer Documentary Photography Workshops for youths 16-32 years old.

The Workshops provide lessons in documentary photography and the development of photo stories through practical assignments and personal projects leading to the creation of a strong portfolio of work, key for pursuing a career in media and/or entry to further education.

Participants will also have the opportunity to be involved in the development of a youth magazine including the publishing of one’s own work in its pages.

The Workshops are supported by West London NHS Trust, Hammersmith and Fulham, Sobus, and are Free for young people living in Hammersmith and Fulham council, and in particularly those that live in underrepresented wards such as White City, Wormholt, Fulham, Shepherds Bush and North Kensington.

Dates and Place
Workshops run on Saturdays (three Saturdays per month in person, and one Saturday remotely to work on the design and layout of the magazine)
Factory Quarter Community Hub, Unit 3, Tesla Court Warple Way, London W3 7DQ. 11 am to 1:30 pm

What you will gain
Our photography programme is designed to provide participants with the understanding of documentary photography practice and the tools to conduct visual investigations.
The programme is a great opportunity to gain practical experience, receive peer support and develop connections with like minded people. Participants will gain a portfolio of visual work, including the opportunity to be involved and publish your own work on the Photojournalism Hub youth documentary photography magazine. By gaining a portfolio of visual stories combined with publishing material, participants will have a positive outlook for entering further education and/or for gaining work opportunities.

Who can apply
The Documentary Photography workshops are open to youths 16 to 32 years old. No previous experience is required.

Costs
This programme is completely free for young people resident of Hammersmith and Fulham council.
We do offer a range of workshops of low costs workshops. We appreciate a contribution of £5 from those that are living outside Hammersmith and Fulham borough to cover the additional costs of the printing of the magazine. Please let us know if this would be an impediment to joining the sessions.

How to apply
Please email Cinzia, admin@photojournalismhub.org or call 07960940766 with your interest to the course.

About the Facilitator

Cinzia D’Ambrosi is an award-winning photojournalist, documentary photographer and journalist, and she is the founder and director of the Photojournalism Hub.
Cinzia contributes to a number of editorials such as Der Spiegel, New Internationalist, Warscapes, BBC, and The Guardian, and often works with international charities and organisations such as Amnesty International, Protection Approaches, and Germany Refugee Council producing stories for advocacy campaigns and exhibition. Her work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Europe and broadcasted in various TV and radio outlets, including in the Czech National TV. Cinzia’s photo project ‘Hate Hurts’ was selected for the European Month of Photography in Bulgaria (2018), won an Award from the Photographers Gallery in London (2017), her short film ‘Prejudice and us’ on the impact of racism and prejudice on London young people’s lives received ‘Best Campaign’ Award from Hammersmith United Charities (2016), Hate Hurts project was selected by Amnesty International Czech Republic to tour as a solo exhibition in Czech Republic for a year in 2019-2020. Cinzia’s photography work has received support and commissions from Arts Council England, Big Local Trust, Hammersmith United Charities, Amnesty International Hungary, Amnesty International Czech, Amnesty International Hamburg, Westfield London, German Refugee Council. Cinzia has received the Spiga d’Argento Award (2022) for her contribution to peace with her photojournalism work.

The project is kindly supported by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Sobus and the NHS Trust West London.

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