Photography walk and talk project – slowly out of lockdown. A Soft Touch Arts online photography exhibition by young people in Leicester.

Young people’s talents and observations shine through as Leicester comes out of Lockdown.

Leicester City was hit harder by the Coronavirus lockdown, than anywhere else in the UK.

When other areas of the country were permitted to meet outside in small groups or go to indoor venues. Leicester was under strict rules. When the restrictions finally started to ease in April 2021 and we were permitted to meet outside in groups of 6 we came up with the idea of weekly photography walks around Leicester as a way for young people to be able to socialize again, learn new skills and keep fit! We met and walked around the city talking and taking photos of the city gradually waking up. As well as involving young people on our creative enterprise project, we promoted it as an open, drop in project offered it to any young city residents aged 14-25.

The participants found lockdown especially hard. Many experienced social anxiety and concern about being around other people again. Many hadn’t used public transport or even set foot in the city, for over a year. The project helped them make new friends and overcome some of that anxiety, while keeping at a safe distance in the fresh air. We were blessed with some lovely sunshine and felt our moods lifted by reconnecting with our surroundings and human contact. Somehow being outside and walking made talking less of a challenge for those with social anxiety.

We were lucky to have the involvement of professional photographer Corrinne Gretton-West who volunteered her time to support the project each week, and were hoping to work with local magazine Niche who have offered to publish some of the photographs submitted by our participants, providing a great confidence boost for them and giving them ideas of how they might use photography in the future.

This interactive exhibition is our memoir to this project, please take the time to explore and comment on what you like about it.

Some comments from the group:

“I feel like this helped with my confidence and anxiety.”

“Meeting new people and exploring my newly opened up city has been such a positive experience it’s helped me renew my love of photography”