A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to fund Invisible Britain: Portraits, which tells the stories of 40 people in Britain affected by government cuts and austerity.

Header photo: Tamina smoking shisha in Young, British & Muslim by Alessia Gammarota

You’ll remember Velvet Joy Productions from last year’s Dispossession: the great social housing swindle. The documentary, which looked at the scrubbing out of social housing estates and the communities they provide for in the UK since the right to buy policy was introduced in the 1980s, even attracted Jeremy Corbyn to a screening in Chelsea back in December. Quite a feat, given the critical stance the film took against several Labour councils and their approach to the housing crisis.

Invisible Britain: portraits austerity Paul Sng

Ralph in Axe the Housing Act Homes for All London by Debbie Humphry

Now the production house has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an ethnographic book illuminating 40 stories of people affected by life in austerity Britain. Edited by director Paul Sng, and co-curated by Chloe Juno and Laura Dicken, the photographs  will depict and document the everyday lives of people affected by cuts to public services.

Invisible Britain Paul Sng Austerity

Martin Hunt at Killingly Colliery, one of the last deep coal miners in the UK. Photo by Jon Tonks

From cities to villages, north and south, the images will capture people of all ages, races, genders and personalities. Their stories of unemployment, austerity and de-industrialisation, rarely captured by the popular media, are intended not to reflect on a Broken Britain, but to foster hope and a sense of social justice in a time of desperation for many.

Invisible Britain austerity

Hedon Road, Hull by Bobby Beasley

“Negative and stereotyping narratives which misrepresent residents of council estates, benefit claimants, migrants, refugees and other minority groups, often encourage the public to adopt detrimental opinions about those people. This stigmatisation makes it easier for politicians to make decisions that can damage those communities. Invisible Britain will explore the impact of austerity and cuts to public services and show the reality of modern Britain from the perspective of those who often feel disenfranchised by the state or misrepresented in the media.”

— Paul Sng, editor and film director

Invisible Britain austerity Paul Sng

Danzalee Smith UVW LSE cleaners strike 2017 by Gordon Roland Peden

The book is being supported by The Young Foundation, and is published by Policy Press, a non-profit university press based in Bristol.

Invisible Britain portraits Paul Sng

George F Flittner Barbers by Jo Metson Scott

Photographs taken by photographers included in the book have in the past included images of residents of Trellick Tower, one of London’s most iconic Brutalist housing developments designed by architecture legend, Erno Goldfinger. Since right to buy, one bedroom properties in the tower can now sell on the open market for £400,000. Then there’s striking cleaners boldly donning the statement ‘we are not the dirt we clean’ on their t-shirts during the LSE cleaners strike in 2017.

Invisible Britain: Portraits austerity

Small Town Inertia by Jim Mortram

There are labourers, industrial workers, and coal miners with dirt-dusted faces. Their images have a 1930s documentary-feel to them, and in black and white would not feel out of place if slotted into Alberto Cavalcanti’s iconic 1935 Coal Face. The photographers unique success, and the appeal of their photographs themselves lies in their honest and disarming capturing of the humanity behind the headlines.

Invisible Britain: portraits Paul Sng austerity

The Fish That Never Swam by Kirsty Mackay

“We are approaching a golden age of British documentary photography with publishers like Cafe Royal books creating an archive of 1970s photography while the Martin Parr Foundation is rapidly becoming the center for a new breed of photography in the UK. With its mass survey of contemporary British life, Invisible Britain is part of this trend. Invisible Britain celebrates Britain in all its diversity, but also puts social justice to the forefront by directly confronting the cruelties of Austerity Rule and putting the forgotten people of Britain at its heart.”

— Colin Pantall, British Journal of Photography

Invisible Britain: Portraits is produced by Velvet Joy Productions and is crowdfunding on GoFundMe here.