Brighton is a town on the south coast of Great Britain. It emerged as a health resort featuring sea bathing during the 18th century and became a destination for day-trippers from London after the arrival of the railway in 1841. Presently Brighton remains a popular getaway and is sometimes referred to as London-by-the-sea. The Magnum Workshop Brighton was a five-day practical event for advanced photographers wishing to further develop their technical and conceptual skills and individual photographic identity. Through an intensive five days of progressive picture taking, candidates produced individual projects under the same structure as professional assignments.
“Homelessness and addiction” by Christina Thom, The Clock Tower Day Santuary, Brighton, U.K.
“Homelessness and addiction go hand in hand. To find your self homeless as a result of a breakdown in family relationships leaves the individual feeling vulnerable, powerless and fearful. This reality is overwhelming painful in itself, let alone how the specific reasons for the individual becoming homeless leave them feeling. Invariably self medication either on drugs be they alcohol, prescribed medication or street drugs is the only tool with which to cope emotionally. There are many reasons an individual’s relationships with their family breakdown. Their parents could be addicts or alcoholics, their parents may have mental health illnesses, the individual may have mental health or substance misuse problems themselves, they may be abusive victims or they may have attachment issues as a result of poor bonding with birth or adoptive parents, leading to familial or marriage breakdowns etc. Alcoholism and addiction are progressive as conditions and are an obsessive compulsive disorder. The individual will self medicate to alleviate feelings of fear/anxiety and shame. Initially this works, but over time an increase in quantity is required to achieve the desired effect and eventually the individual becomes physically dependent as well as emotionally and psychologically dependent Addiction is an all consuming disorder whereby the individual ends up using against their will and the fear of withdrawal is greater than the need to address any other issue in their life, be it housing, relationship, or even personal and physical safety. Every homeless person has a story of personal loss and an inability to face their reality once in the grip of drug addiction or alcoholism. Drugs or alcohol were their friend and enabled them to cope with how they felt about their lives but soon becomes their enemy as it robs them of their dignity, self respect, jobs, homes and loved ones.”
Young homelessness remains a significant problem in Brighton & Hove. Rough sleeping is increasing in the seaside city. The number of young people needing help has tripled in the past two years. The young people who become homeless have usually experienced extremely challenging early lives. Many come from broken or dysfunctional homes. Occasionally their early experiences include neglect and/or abuse in households where alcohol or drug dependence or violence are routine. Others may have behavioral or mental health problems that become unmanageable for their families. When they leave home, these young people often turn to other family and friends, becoming part of the ‘hidden homeless’. Once their hospitality has been exhausted, they may end up sleeping rough or in temporary/emergency accommodation. Faced with this situation, young people often experience a sense of crisis. They rarely have any funds, may have little support, or be separated from, friends and family, and often lack the knowledge, skills and confidence to stay safe and to deal with their situation. The project was named after a poem.
“Round and Round” by James McLean
the space cadet rider
king of the stars
another tap could be mars
ride the sky
ride so high
a little too much
I think I can fly
round and round
feet of the ground
am i lost
or am i found
no sense of reality
no sense of time
of life’s eternal rime
just slipping away in time
Witnessing young homelessness and addiction has made a profound impact on me. I am especially grateful to James and Ashley for their thrust in allowing me to become part of their lives. Thanks to Christina Thom I was able to better understand the choices young people make, or have to make, in order to cope emotionally in their daily lives. This allowed me to the look beyond social barriers and discover what makes young people turn to self medication.
Special thank you to: James G, Ashley P, Christina Thom
© 2008 Edward van Herk – All rights reserved