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Refugees from Red Cross destitution centre in Dalston capture their experiences on camera

PUBLISHED: 12:30 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:48 07 August 2019

Roger Lemoumbou Fokou, who started photography two months ago, standing next to some of the photos he has taken.

Roger Lemoumbou Fokou, who started photography two months ago, standing next to some of the photos he has taken.

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Refugee photographers from Dalston's Red Cross-run Destitution Centre have captured their experiences waiting for Home Office decisions on film.

Photographs by Easton BeckfordPhotographs by Easton Beckford

Two years ago the centre started giving budding photographers disposable cameras to document what was happening to them. Some of the photographers have dealt with poverty, homelessness and mental health issues.

Easton Beckford, 62, focused his camera on his and others' experiences of homelessness. "These pictures show you what we go through," He said. "Nobody respects the homeless, because they have never been in our shoes."

Another photographer, Roger Lemoumbou Fokou, feared for his life in his home country Cameroon because of his homosexuality but has found it difficult since coming to London seeking asylum in 2016.

"Even though the Home Office can cause suffering I believe that one day they can give us papers," he said. "I can't work because the Home Office controls my life. I suffered homelessness and now I live in the shelter - it's not easy.

Pictured: Easton Beckford with one of the disposabe cameras he used on display at Ambika P3 gallery in Westminister.Pictured: Easton Beckford with one of the disposabe cameras he used on display at Ambika P3 gallery in Westminister.

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"I'm suffering - people don't know it. I don't want to show people. I try my best to clean my clothes and to keep clean. In Africa they think that London is paradise but in London people are suffering."

He told the Gazette the pictures he took are memories of special moments like the first time he went to Trafalgar Square and saw a symbol of Cameroon, the untamed lion. Two of his pictures are of the time when he had just come back from a detention centre.

Venetia Menzies, the photographer and journalist who runs the project, was inspired to start getting refugees at the centre to document their experiences after collaborating with a man seeking refuge who'd spent 20 years homeless and living on London buses.

Roger Lemoumbou Fokou, who started photography two months ago, standing next to some of the photos he has taken.Roger Lemoumbou Fokou, who started photography two months ago, standing next to some of the photos he has taken.

She told the Gazette how she'd encourage him to photograph things he saw, places he'd been and places that were important to him.

The photographers' pictures, stories and shoes were displayed at the West End gallery Ambika P3.

It was the collaborative project's first exhibition and was called In Our Shoes. It formed part of a larger exhibition called Common Lands.

To find out more about the photographers their photographs visit https://www.venetiamenzies.com/in-our-shoes

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