DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Housing

These striking photos show what London looks like through the lens of homeless photographers

The MyLondon calendar offers a fresh look at London’s landmarks and local legends through photos taken by people experiencing homelessness.

London homeless photographers

June image of a rainbow mural with Brixton's Solitaire Skater by Wayne Chin. Credit: Wayne Chin / Cafe Art

A stunning new set of photos reveals London as captured by homeless photographers on the city’s streets.

From curious wildlife to bustling Chinatown, the MyLondon calendar has something for everyone.

Café Art, the social enterprise behind the annual venture, puts cameras in the hands of 100 homeless people and sends them off around London to snap photos chronicling how they see the city.

The results are then turned into a calendar that is sold around the English capital. Like The Big Issue, the photographers earn half of the sale price of the calendar.

This year’s cover shot – taken by Zakia Chowdhury, who attends the 240Project arts and health activity centre – features the vibrant dressed Jama Elmi outside a cafe on Portobello Road.

Zakia, who goes to 240 Project, took this shot of Jama Elmi outside a cafe on Portobello Road, west London. Credit: Zakia Chowdhury / Café Art

“He goes around in this neighbourhood and he talks to everyone. You often see him down here,” said Zakia.

Jama is a support worker for Penrose, and helps look after people with mental health issues. He arrived in London from Somalia as a child in the 1980s.

He switched his “doom and gloom” wardrobe for bright colours about five years ago – and hasn’t looked back.

“I’ve done this to put a smile on people’s faces, I haven’t done it for fame and recognition,” he said.

The well-known local character insists he has more than 100 brightly coloured suits.

Two friends sitting in front of a mural on Tottenham Court Road is by Alan McCann. This is Alan and his good friend Kevin. Credit: Alan McCann / Cafe Art

Other photos offer a fresh look at iconic London landmarks. Alan McCann, who lives at St Mungo’s hostel near Euston, shot the December photograph. The picture features Alan and his good friend Kevin – who has been diagnosed with cancer – sitting in front of the Tottenham Court Road mural.

Some images reveal the city’s natural side. The March slide reveals a beautiful rose in the grounds of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

March image of roses by John Burton. John says he was on his way to return the camera on the last day of the contest and had one shot left and this was it. Credit: John Burton / Cafe Art

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

“What could be more English than a rose?” asked photographer John Burton, who attends Margins at the Union Chapel in Islington.

The project is intended to let homeless photographers hone their photography skills and boost their self-esteem. But it also helps them earn their way off the streets.

May image of two mobility scooters in Kew Gardens by Dee Allison. Dee said the women in this shot were looking at maps to try to find out where to go next. Credit: Dee Allison / Cafe Art
The February image is of Chinatown by Patrick King. Credit: Patrick King / Cafe Art

Past participants have used the funds they’ve saved from calendar sales to secure better accommodation or to return to education.

David Fussell – who was a filmmaker before becoming homeless and getting involved with the MyLondon calendar – will start a university course to study film this September.

“Café Art has been a big part of me being able to go to university,” he said.

The project has been running in London since 2012 and has spun off to other cities, including Sydney, Australia, Budapest, and New Orleans, with Mumbai the latest adopter.

A goose in front of the Palace of Westminster by Milena. Credit: Milena / Cafe Art
November image of a man in a window, by Dean Colins. Credit: Dean Colins / Cafe Art

The calendar is available to pre-order now while Café Art is currently crowdfunding, looking to raise £10,000 by September 6 to cover printing costs. The fundraiser can be found at cafeart.org.uk/shop now.

The calendar will go on sale face-to-face at Elizabeth Line stations on World Homeless Day and will be available to buy at Ealing Broadway, Paddington, Ca­nary Wharf and Woolwich on October 10. All of the photographs will also be available to view at an exhibition at Minet Library in Brixton from October 9.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'All my stuff is ruined now': Renter speaks out after home flooded with faeces and sewage
Privste renter Decoda Smith
RENTING

'All my stuff is ruined now': Renter speaks out after home flooded with faeces and sewage

Council charges Grenfell residents cleaning fee for memorial to victims: 'Who would think this was fair?'
Grenfell memorial
Grenfell

Council charges Grenfell residents cleaning fee for memorial to victims: 'Who would think this was fair?'

Labour manifesto's 'vague' plans on homelessness unpicked: 'Next to nothing for those on the margins'
Labour leader Keir Starmer
General election 2024

Labour manifesto's 'vague' plans on homelessness unpicked: 'Next to nothing for those on the margins'

Seven years after Grenfell Tower fire: Residents fear they'll die before seeing justice
Grenfell

Seven years after Grenfell Tower fire: Residents fear they'll die before seeing justice

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know