Art has always played an important part in the history of Rough Edges, a Sydney charity dedicated to assisting the homeless community. After all, self-expression is extremely valuable for all of us – and it only becomes more so when you feel overlooked or spurned by society. “A lot of our patrons are people that are currently experiencing homelessness [or are at risk],” says Ryan Naoum, the Team Leader at Rough Edges.
“I think they feel left behind. So whenever you have emotions you need to get out and to express somehow, it can mean [a lot] to express that, whether it be photography or art.”
This year, the ACP has teamed up with Rough Edges to provide a Camera Craft course to those experiencing homelessness. The charity’s patrons have been learning the ins and outs of digital photography, and are honing their creative self-expression in the process.
And the Camera Craft course isn’t where it ends, either – Ryan says that Rough Edges is looking to get a mentorship program going, with the possibility of an exhibition later down the line. “[Our] next step is to try and engage some photographers who [we] can tee up with one or two of our patrons and coach them to further develop a skill path from this introductory course that ACP has so kindly helped us with.”
So far, the results speak for themselves. “One patron in particular, we’ve found that she’s really enjoying [Camera Craft],” Ryan says. “She’s really gotten into it”.
As for the future of Rough Edges, the charity is aiming to push itself higher. “We’re really looking to develop a community that works to empower the individual,” Ryan says. "I think [Abraham] Maslow said it’s about ‘turning lilies into better lilies rather than into roses’. So we’re not about changing people particularly, but rather [encouraging] them to grow in themselves.”
To learn more about Rough Edges and find out how you can get involved, visit their website.