I am pleased to present the book of Everyday Life in Salford. Through this project, we have supported six people to be able to represent their own lives through photography, storytelling and info-graphics. The participants in the project and authors of the book – the two Janes, Christine, Glyn, Beth and Letitia – all have powerful individual stories to tell, which also document current issues in our society. It has been a humbling, inspiring and emotional project to be part of.
Each participant took photographs that reflected their sources of everyday support and also issues that caused them struggles or anxieties, and then shared the story behind their photographs in a supportive environment. As one participant said: “By just taking pictures that mean something to you, a meaningful story emerges”. Through these stories, we also considered shared themes and how these related to wider social issues that affected the whole community. In addition to this, the public policies that affected people’s everyday lives were identified and the group came up with ideas on how to represent these through infographics co-produced with our graphic designer Dan Farley. It has been a positive experience for everyone involved; Jane Fearns, who tragically lost her son last year, has said how the project has provided “a reason to get dressed and go out” while Glyn noted that “sometimes you only look at the negatives and don’t see the positives, but by going out and taking these pictures it reminds you of what’s good about your life”.
Public policy, the media and social science research can often reduce the complexity and individuality of people in order to make sense of our society – but this can lead to negative stereotypes that are rooted in misrepresentation and untruths. It can also neglect the context in which people are living in, individualising blame for the effect of structural inequalities and ignoring the particular life-histories of people. The worst results of this can be the stigmatisation of working class communities and unjust social policies that seem to largely gain public consent.
Categories: Rethinking The World