My day job is in the City of London, one of the wealthiest places on earth.
Everyday I walk through Liverpool St station with thousands of other people all heading for their jobs. We are all pretty well clothed, pretty well paid and generally pretty pretty.
There is though an undercurrent, amidst the riches of the city. You don’t have to look too hard to find it, but find it you can. The other day when there was snow on the ground a bloke was on the Tube begging. He was wet, dishevelled and smelly. He hadn’t been able to sleep because of the snow.
Last week I took a detour on the way to work to take some photographs. Amongst the colourful signs and witty graffiti I came across the following sight
At first I wasn’t sure what it was, it was only when I looked again that I saw amongst the bundle of rags 3 legs. Yes there were 2 men sleeping in this grotty alcove under one sleeping bag.
It seems that in the wealthiest part of the UK very true that in the midsts of riches we are in poverty.
I was recently in Austin, the capital of Texas. It is a fantastic place with stark contrasts of wealth and poverty sitting check by jowl with each other. I tried to record the remarkable colour of the city, but also tried to capture the faces of the men, and it was mainly men, living on the street.
I made a film about the migrant camp in Calais, which I titled ‘I too am human‘ and I am recycling the title for these two photos. Terri and Rici, the names of the two men I photographed are not street people, they are people.
I hope that these pictures show that they can say with total justification ‘I too am human’
In today’s post-truth, post-Brexit Britain it seems to me that we have more and more people living on our streets. In the town I live in, Reading, there are more and more men and women begging. A number of ‘nests’ have sprung up in doorways and alleyways in Station Road and Friar Street.
This is a first, I have lived here for more than 25 years and even in the depths of the hardest forms of Thatcherism there didn’t seem to be so many people on the streets.
What has gone wrong? Have we enough energy to care?
I can only imagine that government policies have squeezed the bottom of society to such an extent that there is nowhere else to go. This seems to be happening when there is less and less help available. The result is nests on the streets and endless hands held out for any spare change.
The famous photographer Don McCullin stated that he aims to re-humanise photographic subjects who have been de-humanised by their experience. I have been inspired by this to try and record the state of our streets and the nests that are building up in Reading and other towns across the country.
These nests are hard to look at and to walk pass, but they are there and shoppers on their daily path of Reading consumerism are walking by because they see no answer and no solution.
I have put some of my street sleeper photos in a folder and wonder why I walked past these people and why you walk by too.
This is the full set here. Click on the picture to see the set