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Homeless calendar highlights London

The annual MYLONDON calendar, produced by people who have recent lived experience of homelessness, is pre-selling online in order to help fund the project which helps get its participants off the streets.

MYLONDON is a social enterprise mostly funded by sales of the calendars to the public, both online and face-to-face, with the vendors who are or have been homeless.

The 2024 MYLONDON calendar is on sale online now, but will be launched for face-to-face sales in Elizabeth line stations on World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day - 10 October 2023. The stations are: - Ealing Broadway (7am to 7pm) - Paddington (7am to 7pm) - Canary Wharf (10am to 7pm) - Woolwich (7am to 9:30am)

Please contact us if you would like to cover any of these locations on 10 October.

Paul Ryan from Cafe Art said they had been launching on World Homeless Day since the first photography calendar in 2013. "World Homeless day coincides with World Mental Health Day. We see that as a good coincidence because so many people who are homeless have mental health issues."

The MYLONDON calendar has already pre-sold 50% of its target of £10,000 to print it in a crowdfunder which ends on 6 September.

The full exhibition of photographs from the 100 photographers who took part in the project are already online but will be opening in the Minet Library, Brixton on Monday 9 October. Participants will attend an award ceremony where certificates will be given out to all participants and more than 50 prizes will be awarded to the winners, including the Best Portrait and Most Creative awards.

Since 2012 the homeless arts calendars printed by Cafe Art have funded art exhibitions and photography training. Several former participants have gone on to run their own homeless art projects after working with us.

More than £225,000 has been given (paid out) to the project participants since 2012 - in prize money, commissions on photos sold and earnings by vendors selling the calendars which are sold like the Big Issue, with 50% of the sale price going to the vendors.

Participant Richard Fletcher used to sleep in train stations after becoming homeless but now earns enough to pay for a backpacker hostel bed with earnings from selling the calendar.

Richard initially took several winning photos which were in past MYLONDON calendars. This year he was one of the jury to select the top 25 photos from 2,000 submitted from the 100 cameras distributed in late May. The jury also included a representative from The Royal Photographic Society (The RPS), The Elizabeth line and the UK's umbrella homelessness charity Homeless Link.

Another recent participant who took photos and sold the MYLONDON calendar was David Fussell who was a film maker before becoming homeless. This September he will be starting a university course to study film. David says that "Cafe Art has been a big part of me being able to go to university."

From the 25 photos chosen by the jury, the public voted on their favourites online and in locations including Elizabeth line stations in July.

Paul Ryan from Cafe Art says the MYLONDON calendar project has always been about helping the participants directly. Participants who are homeless or recently homeless are offered photography training during MYLONDON contest which uses Fujifilm single-use film cameras, as well as a chance to connect with volunteers from The RPS during weekly meet-ups to study digital photography.

The MYLONDON contest has inspired many other cities to do their own projects resulting in calendars, including Sydney, Australia, Budapest, and New Orleans. Next month homeless charity Pehchan in Mumbai India will do MYMUMBAI. Pehchan representative Brijesh Arya, who will run the project alongside Paul Ryan from London, will be in London for a meeting with University College of London (UCL) in early September before returning to run MYMUMBAI with Paul Ryan.

Cover image: Zakia, who goes to 240 Project, took this shot of Jama Elmi outside a cafe on Portobello Road, west London. “He goes around in this neighbourhood and he talks to everyone. You often see him down here,” said Zakia. Jama is a support worker for Penrose, looking after people with mental health issues. He arrived in London from Somalia with his family when he was eight years old 40 years ago. He said he only started wearing colour five years ago, describing the clothes he used to wear as “doom and gloom”. “I’ve done this to put a smile on people’s faces I haven’t done it for fame and recognition,” he said, adding that he has more than 100 suits. He says now his clients requests the colour he wears every day.”

The January image is of a goose in front of the Palace of Westminster by Milena. Milena said she was heading towards the Elizabeth Tower, which is in the background of this shot, when she noticed a crowd photographing this goose which appeared to be posing for them.

Example of the month design. There are three calendar sizes: desktop (200mm x 200mm), small wall calendar (240mm x 240mm) and large wall calendar (300mm x 300mm).

The February image is of of Chinatown by Patrick King. Patrick goes to south London homeless charity Robes. He managed to get two photos into the Top 25, the other one was of the statue in Piccadilly Circus.

March image of roses by John Burton. John says he was on his way to return the camera on the last day of the contest and had one shot left and this was is - taken in the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral. "What could be more English than a rose?" he says. (editors please note the photo in the calendar and greetings cards will not have the dust which shows on this scan)

April image of Camden Lock Market by Lewis Austin. Lewis used to go to Camden Lock Market in the early 1980s on Sundays, the only day of the week it used to be open. He says it has changed a lot since then.

May image of two mobility scooters in Kew Gardens by Dee Allison. Dee said the women in this shot were looking at maps to try to find out where to go next. She says the mobility scooters are available free to people who enter Kew Gardens if they have booked them. Dee is a member of our weekly photography mentoring group run the The RPS.

June image of a rainbow mural with Brixton's Solitaire Skater by Wayne Chin. He says the photos is perfect for the calendar as represents positive motivation. Wayne is a member of our weekly photography mentoring group run the The RPS.

July image of a fountain in Granary Square, King's Cross by Dmitry Katsera:

August image of the Thames Beach, South Bank by Paul Harwood:

September image of Tower Bridge by Patrizia Rossi. Patrizia says Cafe Art, MYLONDON and the weekly mentoring group helps people affected by homelessness in many ways, including helping them combat loneliness.

October image of Stanley the black cat is by Richard Riley. Richard used to go to a day centre called Pritchard's Road run by Tower Hamlets which closed in 2020. He helped organise a group of photographers from the former day centre to pick up cameras. Richard was given a flat after living in a hostel for homeless people four years ago and this shot was taken on his balcony.

November image of a man in a window is by Dean Colins. Dean was part of a camera handout in Southeast London.

and finally, the December image of two friends sitting in front of a mural on Tottenham Court Road is by Alan McCann. This is Alan and his good friend Kevin.

To find out more about the photographers contact Paul Ryan or phone 07517 141948.

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