Image taken from A Fragile Recovery

welcome to south london.

This is my home. It’s where my friends live, where my children were born, where many of my happiest memories were made.

I’ve lived here for 23 years and I have a profound love for this place – but I'm aware of how increasingly divided it is, and of how difficult life is becoming for many people.  

Hardship in south London is not new, but the support that once existed to help those who are struggling has been stripped back, in some cases lost entirely. Eight years of Government cuts have taken a severe toll.  

Since 2015 I’ve spent time with a dozen or so small, local charities and NGOs, most based a short distance from where I live in Lambeth, to see the work they do and meet the people they help. Each organisation focuses on a different area, tackling issues such as homelessness, housing, caring, benefits, asylum, sex work, addiction, food poverty, mental or physical health. I also work with individual residents who I meet independently of these organisations. 

The issues I explore are not unique to south London. What’s happening here is affecting communities all over the UK. But this is my community, and in the course of producing this work I’ve encountered hardship that I simply didn’t realise still existed in this country, let alone on my doorstep.

At the same time, I've found countless examples of extraordinary kindness, of people - friends, family, neighbours, volunteers, support workers - going to enormous lengths to help others, sometimes when they themselves are barely getting by. 

With the stories I publish here I want to offer a view of London that is seldom seen, and feature voices that are often ignored.

This project is ongoing. I work on several South London Stories at a time, often over many months or even years, and am always looking for more. Everything is eventually presented here. Interviews and shorter updates are also published on my blog

I hope you find these stories interesting. If you do, please consider sharing them. I rely on word of mouth and social media for their dissemination. 


James Hopkirk

I’ve been working as a journalist for 20 years. I began my career as a local newspaper reporter in Kent before moving to The Sunday Times and ITV. I spent six years as Editor of IdeasTap, a charity that helped young people to build careers in the arts and media.

As a freelance writer and photographer I’ve been lucky enough to work on stories in Afghanistan, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, India, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda. Since 2015, however, I’ve focused my attention closer to home.

I love to work collaboratively with people, ideally over a long period of time, to tell their stories in nuanced, sensitive ways. For all the issues my work touches on, people are ultimately what I'm interested in.  

Today, as well as running South London Stories and the accompanying blog, Lambeth: Living with the Cuts, I write and shoot stories for editorial and NGOs, and photograph events and portraits for charity, commercial and individual clients.


Mead Fellowship

This project has been supported through a MEAD Fellowship, awarded by University of the Arts London in 2017. It is a fund open to recent graduates of University of the Arts London – this project began as part of my MA at the London College of Communication. It funded the creation of this website, gave me time to work on some of these stories and enabled me to stage the first South London Stories exhibition in May 2018 – see pictures on the Facebook page here.   

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If you'd like me to send you an email every time I publish a new South London Story, please fill out the form below. I publish infrequently - these are long-term endeavours - so I promise not to spam you. 

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