Raising awareness of women’s homelessness: participatory photography

This project included photography workshops with women experiencing homelessness as well as an exhibition called Hidden and Hunted of their work in a seafront shelter. It was part of a story gathering exercise to understand more about the women, how their experiences differ from men and who might be best placed to influence them.

Homeless Link
October 2020 - June 2021
power mapping and scoping, agreeing key messages, storytelling and gathering using photography and voice recording, curating final exhibition

What we were asked to do

The project, funded by Homeless Link as part of a wider initiative to raise the profile of the challenges faced by women experiencing homelessness, involved working with a steering group to develop a power map or visual exercise pinpointing the relationship between people in the system to understand how to reach them. Following this, to gain maximum impact, we were asked to agree key messages which people could both easily digest and get behind. Then gather visual and auditory stories, followed by a final exhibition.

What we did

We ran two workshops with a professional photographer, teaching women experiencing homelessness photography skills. These photographs were displayed during April and May 2021 in the seafront shelter on the promenade opposite West Buildings in Worthing, West Sussex. The photographs were taken by a group of six local women – the ‘Hidden and Hunted’ – who have or are experiencing homelessness. They chose the theme to convey how, as women, their experience differs from men.

All the images were produced on film with single-use cameras.

The quotes come from the frontline workers who are supporting them. They explain the challenges they face working within the system which was not designed to address the complex and often traumatic experiences of women and where gaining understanding is usually a struggle.

What happened

The project is part of the national Ending Women’s Homelessness (EWH) campaign that has been running for the past year. According to Helen Sharp from the Ideas Alliance, “They have created a unique, emotional display of work that captures the world from their perspective and which, hopefully, will go a long way towards changing perceptions. Decision makers need to see this”.

A partnership of three local organisations supported the women:

Sam Pharoah is a local photographer and photography educator who helped to facilitate the ‘Hidden and Hunted’ to shape their thoughts and ideas and capture them using photography.

Thanks also go to local organisations who have supported the production of the local exhibition:

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“It has been quite staggering to hear about the life events that these women have had to bear. I hope that this exhibition will help these real lives to be seen and not ignored”.

Frontline worker