Young women working with a Newcastle based charity for disadvantaged, vulnerable and homeless people have been recognised with a national £500 award for using digital media in an inspiring way within the local community. The women were involved in a project entitled ‘I See, You Don’t See’, run by The Cyrenians, which allowed women involved in sex work to produce a photography project working with a local photographer, to raise awareness of their experiences of sex work.
During the sessions the women took pictures of the city from their unique perspective, depicting buildings and scenes that would be familiar to residents, but would capture the hidden meaning and lives of sex workers within Newcastle.
The ‘I See, You Don’t See Project’ is part of a weekly drop-in group called GAP (Girls are Proud), in Newcastle City Centre, providing women involved in sex work with a safe place to meet up and tackle issues that impact on their lives, with the aim of increasing the choices and opportunities available to them. The women are offered the opportunity to engage in positive and creative activities such as photography, literacy, creative writing, sport and DIY.
One of the young women involved in the ‘I See, You Don’t See” project said:
“Others need to know that Heroin is dangerous and can lead to other unhelpful things. My work from the photography project is now in the public library – wow!”
The £500 award received by The Cyrenians marks the first stage of the 'Community Voices' campaign, a two-year project delivered across England by communications charity Media Trust, which aims to inspire, engage and support disadvantaged and isolated communities to get their voices heard through digital media.
Media Trust’s Director of Marketing and Communications Services, Gavin Sheppard, says: “We know that there is a wealth of great digital media work already going on in the community, but we were especially impressed with the way The Cyrenians work with these vulnerable young women, providing them with skills and opportunities that they would never have had before, helping to increase their confidence and self-esteem and increasing their choices.”
Media Trust is offering one £500 award every week up until March 2010, to individuals or community groups whose work is helping to give the community a voice through digital media.Projects could range from a digital photo exhibition or a social media initiative to podcasting or a short film on mobile. So long as it has been led by the community with a view to addressing their specific conditions of isolation or deprivation through digital media, and could serve to inspire other communities.
Selected projects will be showcased on Media Trust’s website, and will get a free place at a Media Trust training event plus a wealth of additional communications support.
Media Trust also opened up a range of new grants in January 2010, designed to engage and equip groups who feel unheard or voiceless, with the tools to express themselves. Applications for these grants are now closed and community projects selected for funding will be announced shortly.To find out more about Community Voices visit: http://www.mediatrust.org/communityvoices