As soon as the MYLONDON calendars are printed we start to sell with participants from the project who are homeless, or vulnerable of becoming homeless again.
The main places are Spitalfields Market, several Elizabeth line stations and many office buildings who let us set up for the day in either their entrance area, or in their cafeteria.
Richard Fletcher at the table provided for us by Spitalfields E1 Market. He is holding up the new large wall calendar (featuring February's photo of Chinatown). Richard is homeless and uses his earnings to book backpacker hostels online every week. The hostel prices vary so he usually moves every week to different hostels in different parts of London.
Most people pay by card so we are prepared! When we first began selling calendars in 2012 it was just cash. Since the Covid pandemic a lot more people use cards to pay, but cash is still appreciated as we don't pay any fees on each purchase.
This year we brought the launch forward for the first time since the Covid pandemic - launching on 10 October, World Homeless Day.
Employment and a sense of community
Over the years we have helped many people earn an income from the sale of the calendars. It's the same method as the weekly street paper, The Big Issue, use: they earn 50% of what they sell.
Thanks to the Elizabeth line, we had some banners which were used to publicise the pop up calendar shops. On launch day we managed to raise £400 for the RPS photography mentoring group at the Elizabeth line stations we were given: Paddington, Ealing Broadway and Canary Wharf.
Ambassadors from the Elizabeth line (Joyce and Rosemary) with MYLONDON vendor Richard Fletcher at Ealing Broadway Station on the day we launched the calendar sales - 10 October - World Homeless Day.
Last year the MYLONDON calendar vendors, who were all rough sleepers, earned more than £17,500 from selling the calendars and cards in Elizabeth line stations as well as Spitalfields Market and reception areas of corporate head office buildings in London.
An additional £7,500 was paid out in prize money and photo commissions.
The vendors were able to pay for accommodation to get off the streets, or to improve their lives in other ways. One of them was David Fussell who is now doing a film degree. Last week David said "university has been the right move. The contacts I have made with feature film directors is great.... I must say thank you Paul and everyone that has helped Cafe Art because I would not have this opportunity I now have without selling the calendars and not forgetting The Royal Photographic Society and their photographic training."
This year we hope to help up to a dozen new vendors to sell the calendars and cards.
Often we help people who come to us when others have failed to help them. In 2013, our first year, we employed a guy who missed a meeting with the job centre and was "sanctioned" for six weeks. It happened in November, meaning he couldn't pay his rent in the run up to Christmas and the cold winter weather. He lost his flat and slept on a night bus, selling the MYLONDON calendar during the day.
Where to find us
Spitalfields E1 Market
We will be selling in the market, which is located adjacent to Old Spitalfields Market (many people think it's one and the same) every Saturday and Sunday between now and Christmas. We will also be selling on Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays depending on demand. The times are 10am to 5pm and you will find us next to the bar Players Social, and opposite Peloton
Richard is showing the calendar to a member of the public in Spitalfields E1 Market. It is adjacent to Old Spitalfields Market and many people think they are the same market.
Elizabeth line stations
We will be setting up tables at several stations, including Ealing Broadway, Canary Wharf and Liverpool Street Station. The times and dates will be confirmed soon and we will put them on the website.
Thank you to volunteers who helped us raise £400 in donations from the public at Paddington Station, Ealing Broadway Station and Canary Wharf Station on World Homeless Day for the RPS Photography Mentoring Group!