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Homeless In Halifax: Photographer Claire Woods Captures Rough Sleepers In New Light

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Claire Wood's photos hope to display homelessness in a different light
Claire Wood's photos hope to display homelessness in a different light

When you think of a 'homeless person' what do you think of?

A set of photographs by Claire Wood seeks to reclaim the experience of the homeless without framing people who sleep rough as victims.

Comissioned by Halifax Food And Support Drop in, the exhibition at Dean Clough features a series of portraits that seeks to tell the stories of the 'homeless' in a different way.

Pictured next to their homes, the photos embrace the men's outdoor beds, as they pose in their different shelters.

Pete Davison, who has slept rough for 11 years, expressed how difficult it was to get used to living indoors after sleeping on a disused rubbish tip, in a pig sty and then in a tiny cave on a rocky outcrop.

The 48-year-old has now found a place at a Christian community house with his brother, Joe. However after living inside, he told the Halifax Courier that "bright lights hurt my eyes and the television gives me headaches".

"The heating makes my skin itch and I get too hot," he added.

Davison also told the Halifax Courier that he would wake up at the first sound of birds, and walk all day before settling down to sleep again.

He lived for three years in a make-shift den at Shroggs Tip in the town. And for three years his home was a pig sty in Hebden Bridge, until it was fire bombed.

His last rough residence was a hole among rocks at Wainhouse Terrace - the derelict site of an ornate Victorian building in Halifax.

After an abusive childhood, Davison was sleeping rough by the age of 17. He had to live off food thrown away from supermarkets, and after a relationship failed when he was in his 20s, he found himself in a house with no gas, water or electricity until that was demolished.

It's a story that resounds with Mick who told Wood: "It's a hard life and a lot of people don't understand. I've lived out of skips for food and slept in a grave yard. You sleep on cardboard boxes for insulation."

"People need reassurance, so I don't mind talking. I was abused and moved out onto the streets to get away."

"I honour and respect living. Despite everything, waking up to ducks in Shibden Park was the most beautiful thing."

Meanwhile, 'Dave', looked on the bright side of sleeping outdoors, saying "no bills at least!" He was keen to point out that "I've fed rats and eaten from bins, but I've never begged and never will. Now I have a flat."

The exhibition runs until 6 May. Take a look at some of the pictures below, with captions explaining a bit about the lives of the men.

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