Invisible Manchester workshop

Last week I ran a short creative workshop at Invisible Manchester, a social enterprise which works with people who have experienced homelessness and trains them up to be tour guides. They’re a lovely group, really friendly – I’ve now met most of the participants several times through attending their meetings, and joining one of their walks.

This was an initial workshop, really designed to get to know them a little and see if they might like to work with me on a photography project in due course. We did some introductions, looked at some photos and did a little blind drawing exercise which involved them lying with their eyes closed and drawing a self-portrait (eyes still closed). We then talked about their level of experience with photography and what kind of things they might like to do. Several of the group have done creative projects involving cameras before – one has even been involved in an exhibition. So expectations are high!

It’s nice to be starting something new, it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. My next session isn’t until April but  hopefully we’ll do something more regularly after that.

Eccles shelter under threat – Big Issue North


“This place offers a level of stability that many of us wouldn’t otherwise have. There are people in here who are willing and capable, they just haven’t been given the opportunities, for various reasons.

“We’ve got a lad in here who has been working full-time since Christmas, and he’s been able to hold that job down because of having somewhere to stay. Another resident has just found a local labouring job.

“We’ve got people who arrived, straight out of the doorways, holding a single plastic bag but now, thanks to donations from the public, they have managed to get some belongings – a few pairs of jeans, shoes and boxer shorts. These things make them feel a bit more human again. It doesn’t feel fair to strip them of their humanity all over again.”   Stacey Martindale






‘I was drinking surgical spirit, just to stop the shakes in the morning”

Peter, 40, is a recovering alcoholic. He ended up on the streets several times as a result of his addiction but realised he had to do something when his kidneys started packing in. He started his journey to sobriety while living in a squat with other homeless drinkers and drug takers. “I wanted to kill someone. My body was screaming for booze but my head was saying no,” he remembers.

Peter is just one of the people I met at the Booth Centre, a drop in for homeless people in Manchester.

Please listen to his story.

Staying centred – audio slideshow

It’s amazing how when I’m really busy I always manage to fill my time on stuff which has nothing whatsoever to do with my deadlines. While at university for the first time, it mainly involved tidying my room. These days I have plenty of work-related stuff to be getting on with – and this is the only time I don’t struggle to get things done (albeit not the things I really need to be doing). Anyway, I’ve spent all of today editing audio clips from my time at the Booth Centre, a drop in for homeless adults in Manchester, and then throwing some introductory audio together with some images to produce the little piece above. The reason why I’ve been doing all this is simply because I’m heading down to the centre tomorrow to show some of the service users my work. While I’m planning on mainly showing them a wide edit of images with no audio, I thought it would be nice to include a little multimedia as well. It breaks some of the golden rules I was taught when I trained with duckrabbit – namely that you shouldn’t have more than two voices within a piece like this, but I couldn’t find another way around it. I also have four three-minute-ish audio tracks edited down where these service users tell some of their own stories, which I’ll post in due course. I personally think they are quite interesting but if I made tomorrow’s group sit through them, I fear they may lose their minds. They’ve heard it all a million times before.


The Booth Centre is a drop-in centre for homeless adults in Manchester city centre. In this single room beneath the cathedral, people with a multitude of issues are encouraged to use their time positively. Opera singing lessons, art and cooking classes and trips to the bowling green and the centre’s allotment are among the sessions on offer each week. Most service users live with a drug or alcohol addiction and/or mental illness. While some will kick their habit or learn to live with their problems, others will not. I’ve been visiting the centre several times a week since March to get to know some of the regulars and take photos of their sessions, and carried out a series of interviews about their experiences. It’s been quite an education.

bowling for mancunia

I think I’m already officially bored of this Lomoesque camera which I used for the first time the other week on a uni assignment. But I took it with me when I went Crown Green Bowling on Monday afternoon with the over-50s group from the Booth Centre, just to see what I came out with using black and white film and to try and mix up what I come out with from that project. The twist is that this is the first film I have ever processed (bar one last week that I completely screwed up by agitating the developing tank too much). Just to ensure the images came out extra-specially terrible, I scanned the negatives myself – again, the first time I’ve had a go at this. I can’t really tell where the problems begin and end but it’s been quite fun and certainly an interesting learning curve. Once again, I think I need to learn some patience…