Covid-19 - Life Through a Lens: Trust launches photography exhibition | Press releases

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Covid-19 - Life Through a Lens: Trust launches photography exhibition

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, with support from Maudsley Charity, has launched a photography exhibition to reveal how staff and volunteers working in mental health have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Trust provides the most extensive portfolio of mental health services in the UK. The exhibition – Covid-19 – Life Through a Lens, celebrates the compassion, dedication and determination shown by our staff and volunteers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It reflects the diverse range of staff working on the frontline and behind the scenes to keep mental health services running.

David Bradley, Chief Executive, said:

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, our brilliant staff and volunteers worked tirelessly finding new ways to support people to use our services safely, in partnership with their carers and family members.

“We wanted to capture these moments with this exhibition to celebrate our staff and volunteers, whose service provides a lifeline and vital support to so many people in our communities. Thank you to all of you who worked so hard during such a challenging time and remained so positive and dedicated.”

Rebecca Gray, Chief Executive of Maudsley Charity said:

“As the charity of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, we are always keenly aware of the daily care and commitment of staff and volunteers, but never more so than during the pandemic. We are pleased to fund this photography exhibition which shines a light on aspects of service that many people never see or consider.”

“Several of the NHS projects we directly support – the Volunteering Service, Recovery College, the occupational therapy garden at Bethlem Hospital - have been outstanding during this time, whether delivering mobile phones to isolated patients in the community, making befriending calls, providing online wellbeing courses for service users or the haven of the garden for patients unable to receive visits from family members. This project has uncovered story after story of resilience and dedication under the most difficult circumstances right across the Trust and we’re proud to be involved.”

Ben McDade, Photographer, said:

“From the first moment I read the brief for this project I wanted to be involved. As a photographer and visual storyteller, I was excited by the opportunity to meet, to listen to and then portray the many wonderful staff and volunteers that have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

“This has clearly been a very difficult time for mental health services, and I have been incredibly moved by the people I have met, and how they have adapted and found ways of overcoming the many challenges faced over the last two years is truly humbling.

“It’s been such a privilege to be able to contribute to Covid-19 life through a lens and help celebrate the people at the heart of these services, sharing their stories for many generations to come."

The exhibition explores the challenges facing an NHS mental health trust during the pandemic and how staff and volunteers have tackled these to continue providing the best care possible to patients and carers.

A wide range of Trust staff are represented in the exhibition from clinical staff, to those working around the clock to keep services running - including crisis teams who responded to rising demand as people struggled with the pandemic, the infection control team who adapted guidelines for the challenging environment of a mental health ward, and Estates and Facilities staff who rapidly set up and adapted wards.

Hospital patients and staff can see the exhibition in the Maudsley Hospital main corridor. It will shortly be available to view at other Trust sites.

Case studies

Jane’s story

Jane Kiernan leads our CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) response team. They provide support to children and young people in a mental health crisis. 

“The only thing that changed about our team was the amount of clothing we wore! Sometimes we had to wear gloves, aprons, masks and face shields but we still went and visited young people who were in crisis. We visited them at home and in open spaces like parks.” 

Jamal’s story

Jamal John worked as a physical activity lead at Ladywell Unit during the first lockdown in 2020. 

It was tough for the patients [on the wards] as they weren’t allowed to go out on leave and visitors were not permitted. Patients told me that the outdoor gym has really helped with their mental health and their recovery. One day someone may be motivated but the next day they may not want to get out of bed. Sometimes they feel embarrassed about their fitness levels or not knowing how to use the equipment. As an instructor I came in just to guide them a little bit and let them know that everyone’s different. Even 10 minutes of exercise could make a massive difference to their day."

Ben McDade

Ben McDade is an experienced editorial & commercial photographer, specialising in people. It’s all about people for Ben. Whether it’s capturing them in their everyday lives or professional contexts, photographing real people, models, actors, sportsman, it doesn’t matter. What matters to Ben is about building a connection with them, whoever they are, putting them at ease and helping create an environment where beautiful, authentic imagery can be made.

Ben is based in London and works all over the world shooting a wide range of commissions. From small intimate portraits to large international campaigns his various clients include, Adidas, American Express, British Airways, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.

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