Jenny started Front Door Photo Charity Project to capture lockdown life from the doorstep

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

“Lockdown has been difficult for everyone, especially for women and children who experience domestic abuse behind those closed doors. Domestic abuse charity, Refuge, had reported a 700% increase in website traffic during the initial phase of the lockdown.

Image: Jenny Smith
Image: Jenny Smith

I wanted to initiate a project to raise funds for Refuge and to keep myself busy. My name is Jenny Smith, and I am a Photographer from North London, UK. The virus impacted my work in a huge way with most of my jobs either being canceled or postponed. After a few weeks of staying at home, I decided I wanted to make better use of my time. I realised that I could still take portraits as long as I was at least 2 meters away and thought that asking people to stand at their front doors would be a great way of capturing lockdown life. 


The idea was very simple; I would take a socially distanced photograph of people at their front doors in return for a donation to Refuge. I set a target to raise £1000 and posted the idea on my social media pages. Straight away a few friends were keen to take part and I captured 8 family portraits on my first day. From there, word spread like wildfire. In fact, I received so many emails from families that were interested that the project kept me busy for two months straight. I reached my target of £1000 in under 24 hours and the project went on to raise over £21,000.


In the early days, when the virus was at its peak, I was often the only person these people saw all day. Me turning up with my camera broke the monotony of having to stay at home and gave people something to look forward to. Many women told me it was the first time they’d got dressed up in weeks, and I could see the joy on their faces for doing so. It provided an activity for the kids and gave some families the opportunity to really express themselves. 


One family came out dressed in superhero costumes, with masks and capes on. Another family decided to show a tongue in cheek representation of what lockdown has meant for them. The mum stood there with 2 empty bottles of vodka and the dad held his games controller with wild, straight-out-of-bed hair. It was hilarious!  


Taking photos at the front door worked on two levels for me. Firstly as a reminder of the 2020 lockdown, but also as a reminder that your front door should be a symbol of safety, not fear. It was perfect for a charity such as Refuge. 


This project is dedicated to a wonderful childhood friend of mine who sadly took her own life after suffering from years of domestic abuse. I bumped into her a few days before she died. She told me about her own abuse and how she’d applied to the police to support other women who had experienced the same thing. She never got the opportunity to fulfill this role, but I like to think that the Front Door Photo project has carried out those wishes for her. The enormous amount of money we raised, along with the awareness for Refuge will help so many other women and children. Maybe another girl going through the same thing as her will have the courage to pick up the phone and ask for help instead. You can’t put a price on that. I’m just immensely proud of my local community for supporting me and helping to raise so much money. 

Image: Front Door Photo Project
Image: Front Door Photo Project

The Front Door Photo project has given me so many memories to look back on and cherish. I’ve also received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister which was very unexpected, although I’m still waiting to see if he’ll take me up on my request for a Front Door Photo at Number 10!  


With all that is going on in the world, I believe it is important to never give up hope. We must continue to look forward and find ways to create positive moments for ourselves and our community.  We only get one chance in life; let's make it count."


You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Jenny Smith for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

If you know someone who is going above and beyond for others, please share the story https://www.youhumanity.com/share-your-story

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