According to Aviva, one hundred thousand children in the UK run away from their homes each year, a significant proportion of whom resort to the streets. As these children often lack the most basic provisions – food, shelter and protection from harm – we recently photographed a new campaign with Aviva called Street to School, in conjunction with children’s charity The Railway Children, to help raise funds for the assistance of homeless, vulnerable youths.
Aviva asked us to produce a hard-hitting series of images which will shortly be made into an animation. (We’ll post it when it appears online.) We ensured that we stuck closely to their brief, aiming to achieve the highest possible degree of authenticity for our images. Additionally, we aimed for simplicity and the avoidance of cliché.
On occasions, well-known figures such as Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, and the YMCA sleep rough and interact with the homeless to raise awareness of this issue. Excellent gesture as this is, however, such figures are often more prepared than their genuine counterparts. When Dannatt slept rough, as president of YMCA Norfolk, in October 2010, he had the small comforts of a sleeping bag, a flask and a hat. At the point of contact with The Railway Children, many children have nothing more than a coat. Our objective was to publicise this sad reality.
We worked alongside the Sandra Reynolds Agency for the shoot, and they provided us with Henry, the model in the photograph below. In his portrayal of the gravity and isolation of homelessness, Henry was excellent – surprising, perhaps, considering his achievements as one of the UK’s top swimmers. As you can see, the harsh details such as the brick wall and the pavement give an idea of the uncomfortable conditions, while the slightly drained colours help to emphasise the dullness of life on the streets.
We’re proud to have been involved with the Street to School initiative – and will keep you updated with further news.