This is the beginning of a long journey. Over the next year – and hopefully beyond – my aim is to investigate and document the impact of government cuts on people living in Lambeth.
I’ve chosen Lambeth because it’s been my home for the last 20 years. There’s a great deal that I love about this borough, but the inequality is increasingly stark. It’s home to some of the richest and poorest people in the country, and the gap between them seems to be ever-widening.
I believe that many residents simply have no idea how bad things have become for some of the most vulnerable people who live here – or how much worse things are likely to get.
I’m lucky to be working with a number of organisations across the borough who are operating at the front line – including Brixton Advice Centre, Norwood and Brixton Foodbank, South London Refugee Association and the West Indian Association of Service Personnel. Over the year ahead, I hope to collaborate with more.
This is not a project about the shortcomings of Lambeth Council – what I’m interested in is the effect at a local level of deep and sustained cuts enforced by central government. This is a problem affecting the entire country – but I want to look in detail at how it is affecting one London borough.
With this project I want to highlight what’s happening here in Lambeth. I want to make those who support the cuts understand what the human impact of these political decisions is – and that the axe has not always fallen where people might expect. From a personal perspective, I want to learn more about where I live. Ultimately, I want to work collaboratively with people in Lambeth who have been affected by the cuts, and together tell their stories here.
I’ve been working as a journalist and photographer for 16 years, but I’ve never undertaken a project quite like this before. It will form part of a Master’s Degree that I’m studying at the London College of Communication, but it’s something I intend to continue long after the course has finished.
If you’d like to get in touch, please don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter @jameshopkirk; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In particular, I’m hoping to hear from Lambeth residents who have experienced the sharp end of the government’s cuts and who would like to work with me, share their stories and help raise awareness of what’s happening here in our borough.