These images were produced in Handsworth, Birmingham; in Britain’s second largest city. They are a snapshot of contemporary Britain that perhaps some abroad do not see or know and are images that focuses on the lives of a group of young people who live in a city they believe is not theirs and in community they feel no connection to.

At the heart of this is a young man of eighteen called ‘Fire’.

Already in his short life, ‘Fire’ (he refuses to use his ‘government name’) has been homeless, a gang member and now a father to a son who he hopes will not live a life like his.

Like his young friends they live somewhere in between the houses of their mothers and the streets which they call ‘Crookery’. All of them are classed as NEETS (not in education, employment or training) and all of them burn the hours of the day sitting on the steps and the walls of Antrobus Road laughing, smoking and listening to music as they watch the long day pass by into night.

These are the streets of Birmingham where an arbitrarily bestowed postcode defines one’s gang affiliation and where simply flaunting a red bandanna or a blue bandanna can get you shot over territory or land that no-one owns or no-one else in the city wants.

They all seem lost here in this hidden landscape, that lies in the shadows of the city; just waiting for someone to come and find them and to give them a purpose, a reason; but no-one is coming.

Their unrequited dreams of making it in music in time will fade one day, as will Fire’s, who hopes to get signed by a label in order to make enough money to leave England for the Caribbean to be with his father and his sister; and yet, he is haunted that he too, like some of his friends, will die young ‘in the game’ in a city that he feels will never know he was there.

Andrew Jackson

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