Lucy Hinksman: Photographer and Campaigner
Born in Wolverhampton and growing up in Hereford, Lucy Hinksman regularly came to Tenby for holidays in her childhood. When her family decided that Pembrokeshire would be their permanent home, she settled here with them and has lived here now for over 20 years.
Lucy is remarkable. An artist and photographer, she has been drawn to campaigning for people with disabilities for some time, working with a number of organisations.
Via Zoom from her home in Haverfordwest, she told us about her campaigning role with Barod (which provides support to those affected by alcohol and drugs) and her involvement in the Bridge Project which was about research around learning disabilities . She has also worked with People First on various pilot projects which were important to her.
Her current work for All Wales People First has been seriously slowed by Covid. She has been appointed as a photography project worker… taking photos and collecting stories concerning changing attitude about disability, mainly autism and learning disabilities.
Lucy herself has a learning disability so she has personal experience of the challenges and discrimination that people can face.
“There are so many labels put on us,” she tells me. “ People often just see the labels, not necessarily the person. Over the last 12 years I have worked to draw attention to what people go through. Joining People First has been very positive for me.”
One issue that has affected Lucy and her friends personally has been in the area of employment. “Some employers don’t understand and don’t let employees with learning disabilities have the chances they need.”
Lucy has NVQs in hospitality and catering which she obtained in the hope of working and developing skills in the industry. Instead she spent six years washing up!
“My employers didn’t give me a chance to progress and eventually I decided enough was a enough.”
What helped her reach the decision to leave?
“I had always been interested in photography, starting with my first DSLR camera about eight years ago. It started as a hobby but I soon found I wanted to progress, so I got involved with the VC Gallery, where I got a lot of experience. Then I had my first solo exhibition last year and I began to wonder what was I doing washing up. I decided to do what I do best and started my own photography business. I also became a Learning Disabilites Champion for the Council.”
Lucy has twice been commissioned to photograph Iron Man and is very happy to take commissions for family occasions and weddings etc, of which she also has experience.
Covid has had an impact on her work of course. Her latest job is with the Through Our Eyes project. “The post is intended to raise awareness about disability by educating the public using photos and video. It will challenge the way people think about disability, and allow the sharing of ideas and messages on social media.
“There aren’t many pictures of people with learning disabilities, but because of Covid I have had to rely upon taking photos on Zoom rather than in person.”
I imagine that’s not ideal.
“It is much easier face to face. You can’t really direct people on Zoom to get the best images.”
Covid has also been a struggle personally. “It’s been tough on a lot of people with learning disabilities. A particular problem for me is that people in residential care have had to shield.”
While Lucy herself is living independently in her own flat, her partner, James, is one of those people living in a residential home.
“In residential homes people have less freedom,” she explains, “so we couldn’t see each other for eight months of 2020 . It’s been quite difficult at times.”
“ It’s not easy,” Lucy agrees. “ Life can be challenging for lots of us at this time of year and this is a very difficult time anyway , but I have my puppy, Ruby, to keep me company and I like my walks along the beach or the coast path. I am part of an art group with VC Gallery too and my photography is always important to me.”
For all our sakes, let’s hope Lucy, and all of us, can look forward to a better 2021.
Lucy can be contacted through her Facebook page and is always happy to consider commissions:
Photography by Lucy Hinksman
People First: People First is a charity run by and for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. Find out more information from its Facebook Page
VC Gallery: The VC Gallery is a voluntary charity helping veterans and the community through arts and creative engagement. Find it on Facebook