London Social Enterprise Gives Cameras to 100 Homeless People

This July, London charity Café Art handed out 100 Fujifilm single-use cameras to 100 people affected by homelessness, asking them to document what the city means to them. Camera training was given in June, and again in July when handing over the cameras, by The Royal Photographic Society.

Since 2012, Café Art has been producing calendars to raise money for art groups, artists and vendors, to date raising more than £45,000 (about $71,000 USD).

For the 2016 My London calendar, more than 2,500 photos have been developed, later whittled down to 20 by a selection panel comprising representatives from Fujifilm, Amateur Photographer magazine, the London Photo FestivalChristie’s and Homeless Link.

With the public having helped to decide the final 12 images for the calendar, the charity recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to ascertain this year’s print run. Last year, 4,500 cameras were sold—up 50% from 2013. They are hopeful to reach a modest target of 12% increase this year, or 5,000 cameras.

Check out some of the best images taken below, along with the story of the artist and the snap.


Shadow of Self, Hyde Park, by Goska Calik

Goska Calik took this photo of the base of the Isis sculpture in Hyde Park – which represents the Egyptian goddess of motherhood – and feels her own shadow symbolises her homelessness.

Arriving in London four years ago, Goska became homeless when she lost her job due to illness. After sofa-surfing for several months she was finally directed to Crisis, where she was helped to find a place to live.

Goska was taught photography by her father in Poland and is now studying counselling and working part-time as a support worker for people with mental health problems. She goes to Cardboard Citizens, a homelessness support organisation where she did a dance workshop and photography.


West End Bird, Westminster, by Zilvinas Vaiteikunas

Photographer Zilvinas Vaiteikunas decided to take this shot while exploring streets near Mayfair.

Originally from Lithuania, he lives in a Camden Town squat. A few years ago, Zin decided to ‘sort out’ his life and visited several organisations that could help. He worked on a project called the Book of Life with the Kids Company, which covered the struggles in his life, including a troubled childhood, and addictions. In the future he wants to keep being creative, no matter how hard conditions get, to remain happy and fulfilled.

He said, “The challenge I had to overcome was to discover a direction in my life that would keep me happy and fullfil me as a human being. And so far I have discovered that it is creativity. Organisations like Café Art and Kids Company helped me to use this creativity of mine in an established way, and opened the possibility of sustaining my self, materially, with the work I am doing.”


Photo credit: Ray of Light, image not chosen for the calendar

This dog, pictured in front of at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, is owned by a friend of the photographer, who is known as Ray of Light (ROL). ‘He likes to go around London checking out all the touristic places,’ said ROL, who has had a photo in every My London calendar since 2013.

Formerly a chef, Ray has been sleeping rough for several years, mostly sofa surfing. He is an active volunteer with many charities, including Café Art and has several paintings hanging in cafés around London.


Tower Bridge PICNIC, Southwark, by Ceci

“It was a really hot day. It was the day I collected the camera, so I just walked around until I stopped somewhere near Tower Bridge and saw people on the grass. It looked so relaxing, so I just captured the moment,” said Ceci, a Chinese woman from Hong Kong who did not want to reveal her real name.

Ceci found herself alone at a railway station all night one December when she met a homeless man who suggested she join him at Crisis for Christmas.

She only uses the Crisis art groups, as it helps her get away from the chaos in her large Bethnal Green squat that she finds ‘chaotic,’ with ‘people yelling, shouting, verbal violence and physical violence’.

More images from the My London 2016 calendar below.


Tyre Break, Hackney, by Desmond Henry


Everything I Own or Bags of Life, Strand, by David Tovey


Nature’s Tunnel or Light and the End, Stratford, by Ellen Rostant


Telephone Row, Lincoln’s Inn, by XO


Past & Present, City of London, by Ioanna Zagkana


Colour Festival, Olympic Park, by Goska Calik


Royal Geese Sunset, Kensington Gardens, by Maciek Walorski.


Left Boot, East London, by Ellen Rostant


The Artist, Whitechapel, by Michael Crosswaite