Birmingham & Black Country

Slum photographs spark charity appeal

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Media captionThe photographer said the conditions shocked him

A charity is trying to trace children who were photographed in the post-war slums of Britain.

Nick Hedges travelled the country in the 1960s and 70s for the housing charity Shelter, taking pictures of families living in run-down homes.

Mr Hedges said he was "shocked to the core" to witness the conditions in large parts of the UK.

"I often wonder what happened to them, if they went on to lead happy and healthy lives."

Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption A woman stands in the kitchen of her home in Saltley, Birmingham with her daughter in 1969
Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption A young girl holds her baby sister in Balsall Heath, Birmingham in 1970
Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption A young boy playing in a run-down house in Balsall Heath in 1970

"It's heart-breaking to know that the conditions some people have to live in today aren't a million miles away from the photos I took all those years ago," Mr Hedges, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said.

"A home should be a place of safety and security, but too many families are having to live without."

Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption Shelter is hoping to hear from some of the subjects of the photographs, such as this family captured in Moss Side, Manchester, in 1969
Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption Overflowing drains and draughty houses were some of the problems faced by people living in slum areas as recently as the 1970s

Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, said that while the slums had disappeared, the UK was "in the midst of another housing crisis" and called on the government to provide more support to vulnerable families.

"The double blow of sky-high house prices along with cuts to welfare support means just one thing like an illness or cut in hours can leave a family hurtling towards homelessness," he said.

Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption Young children in slum areas of Birmingham, such as this boy pictured in 1963, lived in difficult and dangerous conditions
Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption Images were taken from across the country as part of the project, including this one of a mother and her daughter in Bradford in 1969

The images are available online and can be seen at a free exhibition at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham until Friday.

Vicky Hines, manager of Shelter's Birmingham services, said the pictures captured "an incredibly important part of this city's history".

She said: "They show how far we've come in the past 50 years, but remind us how much more we must do for the tens of thousands of families still desperate for a safe and secure place to call home."

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government, which has responsibility for housing, said it was "an absolute priority" to build more homes in the UK, and said its current plans were "the most ambitious housing programme in a generation".

An exhibition of the photographs has already been held in Sheffield, and another will take place in Manchester later this month.

Image copyright Nick Hedges
Image caption The slums were cleared in the 1960s and 1970s, but some people such as this couple, pictured at home in Ladywood in Birmingham in 1969, chose not to leave

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