Acts of Kindness in Photos: Bradford Photographer Tony o'Connell
Tony O'Connell's Photographic Study of Acts of Kindness by Bradford Folk
Tony O'Connell is a freelance photographer in Bradford, Yorkshire, England.
His photographic study, Acts of Kindness, is a significant project documenting the voluntary work of individuals and less well known groups who address issues such as homelessness, poverty, addiction, mental health, asylum etc through hospitality, education, sport and aid.
I am eternally grateful to Tony for allowing me to share my joy in his project.
Contents reproduced here with permission. All rights reserved: copyright Tony O'Connell 2009.
No reproduction without permission please.
Contact Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org
Christians Against Poverty
Tony Talks about The Acts of Kindness Photo Project
"I am interested by the idea that we all have the power to generate hope in others by offering 'acts of kindness'. I have documented, photographically, around 45 stories about people who help others, covering as wide a range of activities as possible, for example in social care, education, environment, sport, art, business, and so on.
The criteria I considered necessary for inclusion was that each story:
- had a strong connection with the Bradford district
- was as diverse as possible in terms of the people involved (age, gender, social background etc)
- should focus primarily on less well known groups that are often not well publicised
- had some element of volunteering
Bradford gets a lot of bad press and as a Bradford lad it was important to me to show the warmth and generosity of the people of Bradford. In addition the project shows how using our passion and talents to benefit others, can simultaneously benefit ourselves.
The photographs are a reminder that helping others can maintain our own dignity and self-respect, even in these difficult economic times."
A Regional Trends report published by the Office For National Statistics, recently showed that Bradford is one of the most deprived cities in this region. The report measured deprivation by factors such as low income, unemployment, lack of education, poor health and crime.
Rocky the friendliest dog in Bradford
A Shaggy Dog Story: Rocky
A team of volunteers at Sunbridge Road Mission, offer a free hot meal and companionship to anyone who needs it every Wednesday evening. While Tony was there taking photographs, he heard a commotion at the door and went to see what was going on. A homeless man called Johnathan turned up with Rocky the dog and they couldn't let the dog inside. However the volunteers agreed to bring a meal out to Johnathan. Tony's conversation with Johnathon went something like this:
Tony: What is the dog called?
T: Is he yours?
J: Yes, I got him for my girlfriend for when I'm in prison.
T: Are you close?
J: He's my best friend, he never leaves my side, keeps me warm at night ...
His meal arrived and Johnathan shared it with Rocky - "a forkful for me and a forkful for you" - literally.
The following Friday night, Tony was crossing Centenary Square with the Street Angels when he spotted Rocky with a group of folk who seemed rather the worse for wear. (drunk) He went over and said to one chap - "is that Rocky?". Whereupon he replied:
"Yes, he's my best friend, he never leaves my side, keeps me warm at night ..."
Later the same evening, they came across a young woman slumped in a bus shelter, clearly out of it on some substance or other. Sure enough at her feet, there was Rocky the dog!
Fulfil the Wish
Bati about Kidz now Fulfil the Wish
Maralyn Adey's son has Down's Syndrome and his one dream was to visit Disneyland. His dream was shattered when an airline refused to take him and the extra 24-hour oxygen supply he needed for the trip.
Maralyn got in touch with Bradford charity 'Bati about Kidz' six years ago and since then she herself has been heavily involved with the charity. "It makes things so much easier, even down to having special passes for rides so we don't have to queue, and special seats to watch shows," she adds. "At Disneyland Paris we stay at the Newport Bay Club Hotel which is a fantastic place specially equipped to deal with disabled people. Nothing is too much trouble for them."
Bati About Kidz is now Fulfil the Wish - arranges trips for disabled youngsters and their families with a specially equipped vehicle dubbed the Jumbulance. The charity also provides a vital and vibrant support system.
Doing this project has left me heartened and inspired.— Tony O'Connell
Bradford Street Angels
Bradford Street Angels
Bradford at night can be a scary place yet there is a group of dedicated individuals who patrol the streets providing a protective pressence on Friday and Saturday nights when the pubs and clubs are at their busiest.
Called Street Angels, they hail from different backgrounds and professions. Among them are midwives, teachers, students and former police officers unite to become the protectors of the party-goers and revellers visiting the city centre's social scene.
The charity now have around 120 volunteers. Each volunteer offers two nights per month working from 8pm to 2am. They provide a caring pressence on the streets of Bradford, helping the vulnerable and giving anyone who needs it a helping hand.
They patrol in groups of four or so and usually have one person who can provide basic medical care. "We want people to use Bradford, enjoy it and feel safe knowing that if they have a problem there are people around to help them."
Contact Bradford Street Angels
Bradford's Street Angels, call (01274) 727034
e-mail info@bradfordstreetangels. org.uk.
Since 1993 Bradford Nightstop has offered free emergency accommodation to homeless young people aged 16 to 25 in the homes of trained volunteers, on a one night at a time basis. In volunteers homes, young people are given an evening meal and the chance of a bath or shower. Bradford Nights provides basic toiletries, socks and underwear. A volunteer driver usually takes the young person to the home and the next morning they are given bus fare or lifts to an agency to give them further help.
Volunteer hosts are sympathetic listeners but they also respect the young person's privacy so there is no pressure on them to spend time with their hosts. Many have a television provided in their room should they prefer that.
Tony spent time with one couple who open their doors to vulnerable teenagers. "The training [for hosts] is thorough and ongoing," says Tony. "It covers things like drugs awareness and child protection issues as well as first aid and health and safety."
For more about Bradford Nightstop ring (01274) 776888
Lashman Singh and the Bradford Food Bank
Bradford Food Bank
Lashman Singh is the guiding force behind Bradford Food Bank. The charity aims to supply food to families and individuals. Donations of non-perishable food are collected and stored by volunteers at the former St Mary's nursery in Barkerend, then distributed district-wide.
The current economic crisis has hit this charity hard. People are giving less to charity yet there are more people than ever are being forced into poverty.
"We've seen a rise in demand for baby food, in particular. Just because a family isn't technically homeless doesn't mean they're not desperate. Many people live in poor-quality accommodation with little in the way of cooking facilities." says Lashman.
If anyone would like to donate non-perishable food, to arrange to collect food or to volunteer please contact Bradford Food Bank, (01274) 521028.
This is a chance for us all to be heroes— Tony O'Connell
Craig Vallow at Yorkshire Cat Rescue
Haworth Cat Rescue now Yorkshire Cat Rescue
Craig Vallow is living proof that volunteering has huge benefits for both the volunteer and the organisation concerned. Craig has learning difficulties and epilepsy and works with cats and kittens at Haworth Cat Rescue - now Yorkshire Car Rescue. Since he started there there have been noticeable improvements in his health. The cats too seem to have a special affinity for Craig, their very own cat whisperer perhaps?
The centre covers a wide geographic area and accepts cats and kittens who have been abandoned or are otherwise without a home. Many have been abused or neglected and Haworth Cat Rescue works hard to rehabilited these animals and to find new loving homes for them.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm ... As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.— Audrey Hepburn
More Acts of Kindness: Photo Gallery from Tony O'Connell
More Acts of Kindness in Bradford
- Home comforts... and a helping hand (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Helen Mead on a service that can ease difficulties by making life a little more cosy
- The purr-fect partnership (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Helen Mead hears about a rescue centre volunteer’s very special bond
- Why we need more food in the bank (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
How a voluntary organisation needs a helping hand to carry on feeding the needy
- Faith in power of working together (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Jim Greenhalf on the community that’s stepping out to spread its positive message
- Tony puts good deeds on display (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Over the past year, Bradford photographer Tony O’Connell has turned his camera on ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of kindness.
- Offering girls a sporting chance (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Youth club which is on the ball with gender and religion
- Good things come in small packages (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Wrapped in Christmas paper, the small gestures of generosity are a sign to the Romanian orphans who receive them that someone in the world cares…
- Offering a night off the streets (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Emma Clayton on a couple who open their doors to help the homeless
- Building a way out of poverty (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Emma Clayton on the charity which offers a vital educational lifeline
- Mission to put food on the table (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
The group serving up a little hope
- Winning ways of the fight game (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
The life skills the ring can teach
- Help that proved I was not alone (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
After Paula Helliwell’s job with Bradford Vision was made redundant – due to the organisation itself being scrapped – something unexpected…
- Street team on the side of the angels (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
Sally Clifford talks to the volunteers making the city centre safer
- Charity sharing valuable lessons (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
When Kate Kelly advises people troubled by debt, she knows exactly how they are feeling.
- Tony discovers a kind of magic (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
The man who’s put the focus on so much good...
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