Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience is a collection of stories we don’t hear very often, from people who are frequently marginalised in the arts and media, neglected by politicians, and ignored within society. The stories are about identity, injustice and inequality, and some of the social issues that are affecting millions of people across the UK. Most importantly, these are stories about how people have found hope during difficult times and survived challenging circumstances. The book is the first step towards setting up a platform that will work with underrepresented individuals and communities to amplify their voices and help enable them to tell their stories in the arts and media. It’s in very early development, but our intentions are to do something to make the arts and media more inclusive of people whose voices aren’t heard often enough.

Jay Ryan, Photographed by Joseph Murphy
Jay Ryan, Photographed by Joseph Murphy
Jay Ryan, Monmouthshire 
 
I grew up in Cwmbran and knew nothing of domestic violence until I met my future husband at the age of 15. I was locked in his flat and prevented from going to school. I fell pregnant at the age of 16. Things gradually got worse from there. In the following seven years I was continually punched, kicked and bruised, even when pregnant. I had knives held to my throat, bleach poured over me when bathing, my clothes ripped off me in public, was shot at with a pellet rifle, and drugged to keep me compliant and physically imprisoned. Threats to kill me, my daughter or members of my family were a daily occurrence. I was 23 and had lost my family, lost my laughter, lost the sparkle in my eyes. I felt like a little invisible shadow. People knew, but I couldn’t tell anyone, as I was so scared that my child would be taken away. I thought if I kept my mouth shut, then at least I had my daughter.
The trigger point came when he started to mentally abuse my daughter. She was petrified of him and repeatedly asked to be taken away to a happy house. One day he was injecting with one of his mates whilst I was locked in an outhouse cupboard. I managed to push my way out and just ran. All I had was my child benefit book. With my younger sister’s help we collected my daughter from school and went straight to the local Women’s Aid charity. They brought me to this very room in this very refuge in Monmouthshire.
My life started the day I left him. I went to performing arts college, learnt to drive, did a degree, and slowly forged a career in working with children. It is only over the past year, since I got my job at Cyfannol, that I’ve managed to really ground and distance myself from the girl who turned up at this refuge in all her utterly broken state.
I see and feel the transparency and invisibility in the women who come to Cyfannol for the first time. I recognise the turmoil in their minds, the not knowing where they fit in. It’s my role to work with them, and primarily their children, and help them rebuild their lives. It’s a specialist position, being one of only three in the whole of Wales. I deal with children who are traumatised and who are emotionally numb, and it’s my passion to bring them to life again.
I’ve been involved in a mentoring capacity for over 10 years and have witnessed serious cutbacks in overall funding during that time. The current period of austerity has not only resulted in a reduction in the number of refuges for women, but also impacted on legal aid entitlement and mental health service provision. Whilst rates of domestic violence are increasing in the region, there’s no extra money to cope with the demands on our services. The lack of a holistic approach at national governmental level means we really are at breaking point. Cutbacks in the police, education and health all impact on our ability to rebuild the lives shattered by domestic violence. My post is only funded for another 12 months. It means that we’re unable to plan for the mid term, let alone for the long term. For the women and children who experience domestic violence first-hand, the physical and mental consequences are there for years afterwards.
Will Cockbain, Photographed by Laura Dicken
Will Cockbain, Photographed by Laura Dicken
Raghad Haddad, Photographed by Lisa Wormsley
Raghad Haddad, Photographed by Lisa Wormsley
Nadine Davis, Photographed by Nicola Muirhead
Nadine Davis, Photographed by Nicola Muirhead
Myles Evans-Reid, Photographed by Andrew Jackson
Myles Evans-Reid, Photographed by Andrew Jackson
Jenny Carter and her daughter Layla-Rae, Photographed by Amara Eno
Jenny Carter and her daughter Layla-Rae, Photographed by Amara Eno
Craig Dodds photographed by Poem Baker
Craig Dodds photographed by Poem Baker
Billy McMillan by Kirsty Mackay
Billy McMillan by Kirsty Mackay
Aysha Iqbal by Inès Elsa Dalal
Aysha Iqbal by Inès Elsa Dalal
Zhenya Blonsky, Photographed by Fiona Yaron Field
Zhenya Blonsky, Photographed by Fiona Yaron Field
Tracey Briggs and Jack, Photographed by Joanne Coates
Tracey Briggs and Jack, Photographed by Joanne Coates

Invisible Britain Portraits of Hope and Resilience

Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience - The Book

Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience reveals untold stories from people who have been left out of the media narrative and left behind by government policy. Featuring the work of accomplished documentary photographers along with new and emerging artists, the book presents people speaking in their own words to create a narrative that reveals how an unprecedented world of austerity, de-industrialisation and social upheaval is affecting us all.

Invisible Britain: Portraits of Hope and Resilience, edited by Paul Sng, curated by Laura Dicken, and with a foreword by Michael Sheen, is published by Policy Press.

Photography: Inès Elsa Dalal, Kirsty Mackay, Poem Baker, Joseph Murphy, Amara Eno, Andrew Jackson, Nicola Muirhead, Lisa Wormsley, Joanne Coates, Laura Dicken, Fiona Yaron Field

To purchase the book with a 20% discount

For more information on the Invisible Britain project visit:

www.invisiblebritain.com

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