I first began to appreciate the unique power of photography as a tool for advocacy and social change after discovering the work of Don McCullin, Philip Jones Griffiths, Lewis Hine and Jacob Riis in my school library in 2001. Soon thereafter I enrolled in a darkroom-based photography course where I focused on acquiring the skills necessary to create photographs that critically and creatively reflect on social issues. Two years later, when I was 19 years old, I decided that I wanted to make a photographic documentary about rough-sleeping homeless people in Brighton, England. The issue of homelessness was something that I wanted to address in my work because I sympathise with the plight of homeless people and the difficulties that they face in their day-to-day lives. I felt appalled that so many people were sleeping rough on the streets of my hometown – that these people could be pushed aside and ignored by society – so I wanted to create a compassionate yet honest photographic essay about homelessness that could help restore public interest in this serious problem.
For various reasons, the work I produced regrettably failed to effect any kind of change or influence policy. However, the time I spent working on this assignment inspired a steadfast commitment to supporting people affected by homelessness through a variety of other means. If, like me, you feel passionately about solving the issue of homelessness in the UK, please consider donating to one of the following charities: Shelter, Crisis, Centrepoint and DePaul UK.
All images © Thaddeus Pope. All rights reserved.