Photography success for YMCA resident who was ignored on the streets

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 June 2016

Sam Adesanya now works at the Crouch End Picturehouse. Photo: Polly Hancock

Sam Adesanya now works at the Crouch End Picturehouse. Photo: Polly Hancock


A YMCA resident says his “stubbornness” was key to surviving homelessness and finding new success in photography, with the help of a Crouch End social enterprise

Sam Adesanya lives at the North London YMCA, but has a new job at the Crouch End Picturehouse and is preparing for an upcoming exhibition at The Guardian’s offices.

He was one of the first participants in Accumul8 - a unique project which encourages homeless people to explore their creativity through jam-making, photography and film making.

Sam started taking part in workshops a couple of years ago when organiser Maurice Cumber visited the YMCA.

“They said, if you want to make a life for yourself, do what you want to do - and here’s a way with photography.” “We did our first exhibition at the YMCA gym.”

“I sold some pieces - and that was very surprising because I didn’t think I had talent.”

Sam lived with his family, but became homeless when relations with his father fell apart.

“We bleed the same blood, we have the same fears, but it’s as if when you become homeless, you’re invisible,” the 29-year-old said.

“And that’s the worst thing you can do to someone, not acknowledge their existence.

“Because they think, if I killed myself, no one would care.”

When Sam was on the streets, he had a series of jobs, including events-organising, and this presented challenges.

“It’s very tough, you get up and the first thing you do is find a place to have a shower, wash your clothes, get some food down you and look like you’re still a member of society,” he said.

Sam managed to do this by finding a hub for homeless people before moving to the YMCA.

He describes himself as “extremely resilient and stubborn.”

Always sketching, Sam wants to win a new scholarship which has become available for Accumul8 participants to study digital media at Ravensbourne University.

“What I want to do is photography, art, making films, acting - even modelling.

“I’d give everything a chance, anything creative.”

- Accumul8 photographers will be exhibiting at The Guardian offices from July 14. See:

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