Committed to supporting organisations using the creative arts to help young people realise their potential, The Hospital Club is partnering with the international photographic charity The Wembley to Soweto Foundation,to showcase both the work of historically disadvantaged young people and how photography has enabled them to move their lives forward.
From the 20 – 24 August The Hospital’s dedicated gallery in Covent Garden will exhibit ‘W2S 2 WC2’ – a collection of images captured by young trainees on courses run by the charity against the backdrop of international sporting events, including The Olympics and The World Cup.
‘Wembley to Soweto provides on-the-job training, mentoring and work experience to young people from tough backgrounds enabling them to make a positive contribution to the society in which they live, ‘ said David Westhead, founder of the charity.
Already endorsed by celebrities from the world of film and television, leading media figures and renowned politicians, the project demonstrates the extraordinary difference a picture can make.
Kweku Mandela lent huge support to the first training course in Soweto and when the photographs were shown to his grandfather Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected President, he remarked, “They are so young, and yet so deeply talented. We are hugely grateful to The Foundation for the opportunity they are offering our young people."
"It's a unique project born out of the passionate belief that young people need to be given a voice and offered opportunities to change their lives,” said actress TamsinGreig.
Double Academy Award nominee Emily Watson, also endorsed the initiative, ‘‘It’s essential that young people have a way to express themselves like this. It’s what feeds culture and builds communities world-wide.”
In addition to offering photographic technique, life skills and work experience to develop a young persons confidence, the initiative now also enables young trainees to become trainers themselves, under the guidance of international photographer and co-founder John Cole. At last year’s Brazil World Cup, former students from Soweto and London’s East End went to the Favelas of Sao Paulo and taught young Brazilian trainees. Photographs from this project featured in The Guardian on a daily basis during the tournament and will be on display at The Hospital Club in August.
Hugh Bonneville commented, ‘“ What I think is particularly brilliant is that when these young trainees have learnt their skills they get the chance to teach and pass on their skills to other young people, so the whole initiative is moving forward all the time.”
Westhead added, “ It’s been hugely satisfying to see the difference that can be made with a relatively small budget but lots of hard work and dedication. Wembley to Sowetowas originally funded by a handful of individuals who believe, like me, that ‘an ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.’ To be honest, when John Cole and I set out to run the course, we hoped a couple of the students might make a few quid taking wedding photos and the like but the fact they are now working for the United Nations, Governments, film companies, media outlets and sporting conglomerates as well as taking portraits of some of the world’s best-known actors shows what can be achieved by talented youngsters with a determination to have their voices heard.”
One of the trainee photographers, Tshepang Masemola, 17 years old from Hillbrow, Johannesburg spoke about the impact of the project: “I really wish and hope that ‘Wembley to Soweto’ can be a big tree that grows a lot of branches to let the world know about photography and how what we experience in our everyday lives can be interpreted through pictures. I have learned that I have to persevere in terms of any hardship I come across. Instead of just sitting down and waiting for help, I need to go out there and do it myself.”
Actor Bill Nighy, said: ‘ Wembley to Soweto is exemplary. It’s beautiful. It’s simple. It’s achievable. Its necessary and it’s groovy.’