By Owen Harvey
Recent cuts in government funding have made it increasingly hard for Britain’s disabled population to get by, with many of those with psychiatric or physical problems often struggling to escape the confines of their own homes. Often they have to rely on their friends and familes, who unfortunately might not be available to help.
One victim of the Conservatives’ plan to cut Britain’s debt is Barry, a 60-year-old from Watford who spent his early childhood in care and was diagnosed as manic depressive as a teenager. His vulnerable mental state eventually led to alcoholism and addiction, and?after the death of his child?residential psychiatric care. Finally, he wound up in prison. For the past ten years, Barry has been suffering from a degenerative muscle condition that has left him mostly housebound, and his condition has only worsened since the cuts have set it.
Barry’s existence is far from solitary, however?almost every night of the week he’s joined by a bunch of local teenage boys. Since the 1990s, his apartment has become a venue for their gatherings, each generation passing through before leaving it for the next. In the 90s, Barry allowed the kids to hang out because he enjoyed their company, providing for them a place where they could hang out and get high away from their parents’ homes; later, in the 2000s, as Barry’s personal and financial situation worsened, he started to allow them to store and deal drugs out of his apartment. He hoped that they would contribute to some of his bills with the money they made.
In 2010, police raided the flat and recovered $8,000 worth of weed and a large quantity of cocaine with a street value of $26,000. Barry never served a prison sentence, but he continues to pay a weekly fine.
Photographer Owen Harvey has been documenting Barry’s flat and everything that goes on insider it for the past few years as part of his Flat 47 project. The series is ongoing, but Owen sent us a load of his pictures?mixed in with some of Barry’s personal photos from the late 90s?to show you what life is like for one member of Britain’s impoverished, disabled, and lonely underclass.
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