Crouch End social enterprise sees homeless people getting creative ahead of King’s Cross photography exhibition

Founder of Accumulate Marice Cumber leading a workshop with students.

Founder of Accumulate Marice Cumber leading a workshop with students. - Credit: Archant

A photography exhibition is opening up in King’s Cross on Friday featuring work by homeless people living in hostels across north London.

Photography in action with Accumulate.

Photography in action with Accumulate. - Credit: Archant

The show is being put on by Accumulate, a social enterprise set up by Marice Cumber which aims to build the employment skills, confidence and sense of hope for long term homeless residents at north London’s YMCA as they try to move forwards with their lives.

The 15-week course sees students from Ravensbourne College, where Marice works as a work-based learning co-ordinator, coming together with homeless people to create artworks inspired by the capital.

Marice said: “At the beginning it can be a bit like West Side Story, with the groups from the various hostels sticking together, but after a few weeks we had a core group pitching in and collaborating.

“It has been an amazing experience again this year. It is always a learning curve at the beginning, but it is about using creativity to create social good.”

Students taking part in an Accumulate workshop.

Students taking part in an Accumulate workshop. - Credit: Archant

Although more than 50 people turned up to the first workshop – after learning about the project through presentations at each hostel – the numbers dwindled to 23 after a few weeks, with some not being able to commit to the project for a variety of reasons.

But Marice says the core group of 23 homeless people – paired up with Ravensbourne students – embraced the project, which saw them taking inspiration from venues such as the Tate and the Barbican.

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The exhibition – which runs every day at the Guardian Building in York Way between 10am and 6pm until June 3 – will be the culmination of an engrossing creative process for those taking part, but for some their journey is only just beginning.

After excelling on the course, three students have secured a place on a pre-university ‘access to HE’ course at Ravensbourne in September.

“Those taking part develop personally and foster skills that they will have with them for life,” Marice added.

“We open up London to them and show the sort of things available on their doorstep.

“They work on their confidence and communication skills. You see the smiles on the faces of people who may be going through a tough time – it is incredibly therapeutic.

“They may have a lot of negativity in their life so creativity can be important. Now some of them can see the world differently.

“There is also the added bonus of students being able to secure a place on a university course at the end of it.”