A Camera Amnesty will give homeless people the chance to become photographers.

Shutter Hub and homeless charity Accumulate have teamed up to create a library of snapper gear.

Rough sleepers always need the basics to survive with clean clothes, food and drink top of the bill – but the mental strain of living on the streets is often overlooked.

That’s why photography organisation Shutter Hub is teaming up with youth homelessness charity Accumulate for a Camera Amnesty to allow homeless Londoners the chance to show their life through a lens.

The two organisations have joined forces for workshops, tutoring and even a Guardian exhibition in the past, and now they are asking snappers to donate unwanted gear to create a camera library for homeless photography enthusiasts to access.

Image first published on instagram.com/shutter_hub.

Being homeless is a stressful position to be in and the chance to have creative expression is a great way to give someone a goal and the chance to feel people believing in what they do. It’s a lovely thing,” said Shutter Hub’s Karen Harvey.

The idea for the Camera Amnesty came after a homeless man named Eric won the right to host his own exhibition but lacked the equipment necessary to fill out the show. Now, they are urging snappers to get in touch to donate their old gear.

As Karen explained: “We thought it would be nice to get him a camera but then though why can’t we do this for everyone?

When we started to get cameras together I thought that we can’t just give them to people but then Accumulate decided to use them in a bank so people can use different types of camera, whether they be DSLRs, film cameras or others. And you know what is really nice? People come in and use them, look after them and bring them back when there must be some temptation to sell them. It’s heartwarming.

Marice Cumber, director of Accumulate, added: “The partnership with Shutter Hub extends beyond their expertise and networks (which are amazing anyway) as they also provide us with expert tutors for the workshops and for the portfolio reviews with the Accumulate participants.

Shutter Hub also set up the Camera Amnesty scheme for us and publicise it widely across their networks. Camera Amnesty means people can donate their unused cameras to Accumulate and then our photography workshop participants can borrow a camera to continue learning and developing their photography skills. A great invention by a great partner!

Karen isn’t only working on amnesties for cameras – she also has her hands full with her own Toiletries Amnesty.

Image: @toiletriesam.

The idea for the plan came four years ago when Karen investigated her bathroom cupboards and found them full of smellies that she was never going to use.

She chose to give them to good causes before asking pals to join in. But before long she was inundated with donations, more than she could handle alone.

So Karen has, with the help of some funding from a jewellery firm, set up an online directory for the project, outlining all the refuges, foodbanks and homeless shelters across the UK and Ireland that are accepting donated toiletries.

I don’t know about anybody else but when I get home from a hard day at work, I enjoy a nice bath and it must be the same when you’re homeless too,” said Karen. “It’s only a small thing but it can make a big difference having nice toiletries to do that. But places can’t afford it, one hospital got in touch with me and said they couldn’t afford to buy toiletries and it made me sick, they should have funding for that.

The above article by Liam Geraghty first published on bigissue.com in Jun, 2018.