Dean O'Brien's Blog

My latest project…Helping the homeless and hungry on Coventry’s streets.

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Voluntary work is something which I have wanted to do for a long time but I did not want to settle for just anything. Standing behind the counter of my local charity shop for three hours a week never really sent my heart racing. It had to be something which I could put my heart and head into. Well it is often said that God moves in mysterious ways and the moment that I picked up and read the Evening Telegraph last month I knew that I had received my calling. I was drawn to an article written about a man called Kervin Julien.  He had been a drug addict for thirty six years, was a victim of sexual abuse at the age of six, and after developing a crack cocaine habit he dropped into the world of gangland crime. This led to him losing his business, his house and his three children were taken into care when armed police raided his £500,000 London home. After being arrested at the port of Dover for forging passports to bring Jamaican gangsters into the UK he was looking at a 14 year jail sentence. It was at this point that his moment of salvation arrived. “When I went to court to beg the judge for one last chance I had smoked £350 of crack cocaine that morning. I though if i didn’t get off that sentence I was going to die” After hearing about Kervin’s past the judge decided in his favour and he was ordered into rehab at Whitley Village in Coventry. It was whilst here that he found God “I had to believe there was something more going on, something far greater than me. The judge didn’t have to do that, he had no reason to. He gave me a chance to live.” Now every week he helps to feed around 150 homeless people on the streets of Coventry. Many of these are drug addicts and criminals who are suffering the same things he did a few years ago.

After reading about Kervin I decided to track him down and let him know that I was interested in looking more into the work that he does. However, I don’t just want to turn up and take a few photos of some hungry, homeless people looking cold. Thats not what I’m about. I want to get my hands dirty and speak to him about his amazing transition from gangster to God. I want some inspiration from him, to take pictures and document my findings as I go along. I get to go out next Sunday giving sandwiches out to the homeless who gather under one of the cities flyovers. Kervin explained that not all of these hungry people are homeless. Many have flats or bedsits but simply cannot afford to feed themselves and this will be the only decent meal that they get. Hard to believe in this modern world but a very grim reality none the less. After feeding the homeless, next stop will be the Salvation Army. Kervin helps out here too.

I’m looking forward to this journey with Kervin. Who knows what will happen and where this will lead?  I enjoy being a photographer  for a great number of reasons but none other than for the people which it enables me to meet.  Being able to interact with people from all walks of life is very fulfilling.  It inspires projects to emerge.  Projects which I can start and continue to build on over a period of months or even years.  This may well be my biggest.  I will keep you updated with regular reports and images on here so please check back regularly.


Written by Dean O'Brien

April 2, 2010 at 10:46 pm

One Response

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  1. Charity and photography hey? – there was a thing not so long back where photographers all over did portraits oh those that can’t afford it or the homeless and other people. I will try and find it.

    Good luck that Saturday.



    April 3, 2010 at 1:02 am

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