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Renowned artists works with homeless youth for photo project

ALL SMILES: Participants of the Moving Forward project with Accumul8 founder Marice Cumber (SECOND RIGHT)

AN AWARD-winning visual artist has teamed up with young homeless youths from east London for a photography project.

Since the start of the year, five residents of YMCA East London have been taking part in a photography project run by Accumul8, a social enterprise set up to empower, invigorate and awaken the creative talents within vulnerable young homeless people in London.

Tutored by one of the UK art scene’s most exciting visual artists, Othello De’Souza-Hartley, and with students from Ravensbrook College assisting in developing their photographic skills, the residents have enjoyed photographing in venues, with people and in places normally inaccessible to them.

De’Souza-Hartley told The Voice: "When I was growing up my impressions of the art world was elitist. I have always believed art should be inclusive. Photography is accessible medium. It can help build confidence can be visual language to express yourself without words.

"I got involved in the project because it's something I truly believe in and it was an excellent opportunity to share my experience. It's also great for young people to have someone they can relate to and inspire them."

Highlights of the project this year include attending London Fashion Week, being featured in Vogue, and getting support from Brit Award-winning rapper Tinie Tempah via social media.

The young people's work has culminated in the Moving Forward exhibition, which is running until the end of this month at The Guardian in London.

Artist De’Souza-Hartley added: "At the exhibition, my greatest joy came from watching the faces of young people who were all happy, proud, and grateful for the opportunity."

Luke Dodd, curator of The Kings Place Space at Kings Cross together with Brett Rodgers, director of the Photographers Gallery, which is curating the exhibition, have selected the best photographs for display.

TUTOR: Renowned visual artist Othello De’Souza-Hartley

"It was a pleasure to be part of it," said Dodd. "Some of the work was very impressive, and demonstrated how photography can support the confidence and skills of young homeless people.”

Jamila Ford-White, 18, a resident of YMCA East London said: “It was amazing taking part in the project. I felt appreciated by people who did not know me and proud of myself and the people who I had this experience with.

"I am very thankful to everyone involved for inspiring us to create expressive art that we are confident to have other people view.”

The exhibition has attracted has created a huge buzz with some residents appearing on London Tonight earlier this month to discuss the event.

Photographs are on sale, the proceeds of which are shared between the photographers and Accumul8, so that it can continue its work providing creative activities to young, homeless people in hostels across London.

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