£77.00 pledged of £2,000 goal
backers
£77.00 pledged of £2,000 goal
backers

About this project

After having worked in a role where the challenge was to find positive stories about how benefits have helped people to get by, I have reverted to my original position on this topic. The benefits system IS important. It is a lifeline for many in need. The problem is not so much the level of benefits, nor even the teeny percentage of fraud. It's not the people who claim benefits. It's the wholly dispiriting system itself - it's grim, designed to grind people down, suspicious, bureaucratic in a truly Kafkaesque fashion.

The Catch-22's are deliberately in-built to create obstacles and disincentives. This is not some joyous free-for-all, a land of milk and honey and free boob jobs and flat screen TVs for any old scrounger! You leave your soul at the door when you enter the jobcentre, while a person with no customer service skills and precious little empathy, who refuses to make eye contact with you - silently hands you forms to fill in - and woe betide if you don't understand them, as that's simply a recipe for desperate patronisation. Welcome to a 2014 slice of dystopia!

All too often the voices of people who claim benefits are marginalised or distorted, or sometimes - which can be worse - those voices are co-opted by a charity or campaign. So that instead of these people finding a way to speak for themselves, their potentially uncomfortable messages are screened or diluted to make them more PR/press friendly and tolerable to the general public.

I have been passionate about photography ever since I found my Uncle's discarded camera as a teenager. With my first graduate pay packet I went out and bought a new Minolta Dynax SLR camera, and I haven't stopped taking pictures ever since.

The inspiring thing about photography is that although the individual wielding the camera does exercise some control about what to frame and focus on, all too often the raw reality leaks through in a photograph - making images a potent and visceral weapon of communication.

Out of this project I hope to produce my first documentary photography book to show the underside of what it is like to claim benefits and to live on them. I will be documenting my own journey through the system as well as the people I interact with and people on benefits who agree to be part of the project - allowing my access to their lives, challenges and aspirations.

Please help me reach my target and show the world what it looks like through my eyes - which means what it looks like to be poor and on the dole in the UK in 2014!!

Risks and challenges

The main challenges in my life have always been financial. I come from a working class, poor background where we've had to graft and sometimes dodge to get an education.

I am incredibly resourceful and in 2012 set up my own pop-up gallery in a hard pressed area of London. It ran for 3 months before the rent was raised by the landlord on the disused shop. I have a keen eye for opportunities and will be looking for future projects and collaborators to realise further photography projects down the line.

Potential challenges are finding access to further subjects difficult; the process of documenting my own journey through the benefits system - and interactions with officialdom; finding a gallery to represent the work or a publisher for the final book.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $43

    You will receive a high res digital image from the photo book which you can print and frame.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $171

    You will receive a limited edition print from the photo series

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $427

    You will receive a copy of the photo book on the theme 'A Sense of Place'

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £500 or more About $854

    You will receive a full set of prints from the photo project and a copy of the photo book

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,709

    I will be keeping a written and photographic journal whilst carrying out this project and you will receive a copy of this intimate personal journal, giving an insight into the creative process.

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Funding period

- (29 days)