In 2021, Focus Ireland launched LEAP (Lived experienced Ambassador Programme), which aims to empower people who have experienced homelessness to share their stories, dispel stereotypes and give authentic insights. This helps inform the work Focus undertakes, the general public and policymakers.
Focus Ireland has five ambassadors: Catherine Keenan, Paul Geoghegan, Kelly Ann Byrne, Scott Buckley, and Stephanie Clarke. Since the launch, they have featured in print and broadcast media and spoken to policymakers locally, in the Oireachtas and to EU research groups.
For this project, the ambassadors worked with Dr Maria Quinlan, who guided them through a research methodology called Photovoice—a therapeutic process using photography to help people who have experienced trauma. Through this process, the ambassadors accessed their subconscious thoughts and emotions while experiencing homelessness. They shared found imagery and personal photographs in a group setting and spoke about the feelings they provoked. The book Journey Home is a record of this process.
In the text, the ambassadors describe the process as a ‘very gentle way to reflect on’ their past experiences, and the visual goal was to echo this. The intent was to give the ambassadors a voice, amplify their stories and represent cadence through typographic scale. Some of the photographs in the book were taken by the ambassadors and were not to be edited in any way. This constraint influenced how the images were used in terms of size and placement and further informed the book’s design.
The finished piece is case-bound and thread-sewn, contains 128pp at 168mm × 240mm, is covered in grey linen with a white foil title, Colorplan Citrine 270gsm endpapers, printed on Munken Pure Rough 120gsm and set in LL Circular and Dashiell Text.