This festive season, King’s Cross proudly opens “The 12 Heroes of Camden”: a free, outdoor exhibition celebrating individuals and organisations who have supported their community in times of hardship. A chance to say thank you for the thankless tasks, the exhibition will shine a light on 12 Heroes who have stood up and made a difference to the borough.
12 large scale portraits of local individuals will be positioned around the King’s Cross estate from today until 5 January 2020, highlighting their good deeds and acts of everyday kindness during this most challenging of years. King’s Cross is alive with charitable individuals and organisations and this latest outdoor exhibition offers the chance to give thanks back to the borough and tell the stories of the unsung Heroes.
The exhibition, made possible by the King’s Cross estate, is created in partnership with Camden Giving, a local organisation providing charitable grants to the community, improving the lives of local people who live and work in the borough. The 12 Heroes of Camden exhibition will put a spotlight on the local charitable work happening all over Camden and aims to help raise funds for this work to continue. Visitors can find out more and donate here.
The 12 Heroes of Camden exhibition will proudly display the Heroes’ photographs alongside their personal stories. All portraits were photographed outside and in line with social distancing measures by Aaron Hettey, a local photographer based at King’s Cross. For Camden locals and those travelling through the area, the exhibition provides an opportunity to appreciate art and culture in a safe way. Chiming perfectly with the festive season, The 12 Heroes of Camden is a thank you gift from King’s Cross to everyone who has volunteered, helped a friend, and turned up to make a difference.
The 12 Heroes of Camden range from across different areas and have all used their own unique skill set to benefit the community. Whilst many of the heroes used arts and culture as a lifeline for those in need, others devoted themselves to providing basic supplies, emotional support and education:
- Sarah Hoyle, manager of Kentish Town Community Centre, launched the ‘Happiness Hamper Project’ during the first lockdown, supporting 240 low-income families in this area with a hamper every two weeks. Looking ahead to the festive season, Sarah’s goal is to raise £15,000 and to deliver a “Super Bumper Hamper” to 300 local families. These hampers carry with them more than just Christmas cheer: “It’s really important in my job that I try to help people define themselves as the best of who they are, rather than the situation they’re in.”
- Albert McEyeson, founder of Action Youth Boxing Intervention (AYBI), used lockdown to combine boxing and cognitive behavioural therapy, providing immense relief for those struggling as well as acting as a role model for children and families in the borough. During this year, Albert noticed how young people needed him more than ever and took his sessions online: “During Covid, we’ve been supporting people with mental health issues who are struggling, giving them a safe space.”
- Gemma Clarke and Olivia Mervyn-Smith are two communications professionals who, after being furloughed during the first lockdown, decided to put their time to good use and bring their skillset to the team at Camden Giving: “Camden Giving made such an impact for families who couldn’t feed their kids because they weren’t at school, or people who couldn’t pay for funerals when they were losing people to Covid. It was really amazing to see all the small organisations that Camden Giving supports throughout the borough.”
- Abdikadir Ahmed works for Somali Youth Development Resource Centre (SYDRC), a youth led organisation that works with young people in Camden and operates out of King’s Cross. During lockdown, the problem of lack of access to technology became acutely clear. With schools closed, too many young people were cut off from laptops and devices. “We saw there was a massive digital divide within the area,” says Abdikadir, the centre’s youth services manager. “We found out young people were doing homework on their phones. It’s quite harrowing to hear that, and we thought as an organisation we’ve got to mobilise.” At first, the centre started handing out its own equipment to families in need. But thanks to funding from Camden Giving, SYDRC was able to give out more than 45 laptops to young people. “Another thing is we found out a lot of the families were falling behind in terms of schooling,” says Abdikadir, “So we hired maths and English tutors to help them.”
Director of Camden Giving Natasha Friend commented “The 12 Heroes of Camden is a celebration of the London Borough of Camden and the people that make up our communities. These people are the beating heart of the borough and this exhibition is the perfect opportunity to showcase the solidarity, resilience and true power of community spirit in a time of crisis.”
More information regarding the individual heroes can be found here.
The 12 Heroes of Camden have been selected by Camden Giving. Whilst the Heroes themselves represent different charitable endeavours, all proceeds raised through the fundraising campaign will go directly to Camden Giving. Their panel of local people will then award and distribute funds to organisations and individuals across the borough, ensuring the greatest benefit for local people.
To learn more about “The 12 Heroes of Camden” and donate, visit here. Tap to donate points are also available on site, with all funds going to Camden Giving.
The 12 Heroes of Camden is a seasonal celebration, and forms part of King’s Cross’ Christmas programme. On Thursday 12 November, King’s Cross launched its ‘traditionally untraditional’ Christmas. Across the King’s Cross neighbourhood are three iconic Christmas trees, each delivering an alternative, unexpected interpretation of the traditional festive tree. For more information, please visit www.kingscross.co.uk.