Photography Exhibition – Covid-19 – Life Through a Lens

A photography exhibition funded by Maudsley Charity documents hope, compassion, and kindness on the frontlines of mental health care at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, with support from Maudsley Charity, has launched a photography exhibition to reveal how staff and volunteers working in mental health have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trust provides the most extensive portfolio of mental health services in the UK and the exhibition – Covid-19 – Life Through a Lens, celebrates the compassion, dedication and determination shown by staff and volunteers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It reflects the diverse range of staff working on the frontline and behind the scenes to keep mental health services running.

The entire exhibition, as well as video content, is available online at Hospital patients and staff can see the exhibition in the Maudsley Hospital main corridor, while a selection of photos is also available to view by the public at ORTUS, Denmark Hill, home of the Maudsley Charity.

David Bradley, Chief Executive, expressed his gratitude to staff saying, “During the Covid-19 pandemic, our brilliant staff and volunteers worked tirelessly finding new ways to support people to use our services safely, in partnership with their carers and family members.

“We wanted to capture these moments with this exhibition to celebrate our staff and volunteers, whose service provides a lifeline and vital support to so many people in our communities. Thank you to all of you who worked so hard during such a challenging time and remained so positive and dedicated.”

Rebecca Gray, Chief Executive of Maudsley Charity said, “As the charity of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, we are always keenly aware of the daily care and commitment of staff and volunteers, but never more so than during the pandemic. We are pleased to fund this photography exhibition which shines a light on aspects of service that many people never see or consider.”

“Several of the NHS projects we directly support – the Volunteering Service, Recovery College, the occupational therapy garden at Bethlem Hospital – have been outstanding during this time, whether delivering mobile phones to isolated patients in the community, making befriending calls, providing online wellbeing courses for service users or the haven of the garden for patients unable to receive visits from family members. This project has uncovered story after story of resilience and dedication under the most difficult circumstances right across the Trust and we’re proud to be involved.”

Photographer Ben McDade noted, “From the first moment I read the brief for this project I wanted to be involved. As a photographer and visual storyteller, I was excited by the opportunity to meet, listen to and then portray the many wonderful staff and volunteers that have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

“This has clearly been a very difficult time for mental health services, and I have been incredibly moved by the people I have met, and how they have adapted and found ways of overcoming the many challenges faced over the last two years is truly humbling.

“It’s been such a privilege to be able to contribute to Covid-19 life through a lens and help celebrate the people at the heart of these services, sharing their stories for many generations to come.”

The exhibition explores the challenges facing an NHS mental health trust during the pandemic and how staff and volunteers have tackled these to continue providing the best care possible to patients and carers.

A wide range of Trust staff is represented in the exhibition from clinical staff, to those working around the clock to keep services running – including crisis teams who responded to rising demand as people struggled with the pandemic, the infection control team who adapted guidelines for the challenging environment of a mental health ward, and Estates and Facilities staff who rapidly set up and adapted wards.

About the photographer

Ben McDade

Ben McDade is an experienced editorial & commercial photographer, specialising in people. It’s all about people for Ben. Whether it’s capturing them in their everyday lives or professional contexts, photographing real people, models, actors, sportsmen, it doesn’t matter. What matters to Ben is about building a connection with them, whoever they are, putting them at ease and helping create an environment where beautiful, authentic imagery can be made.

Ben is based in London and works all over the world shooting a wide range of commissions. From small intimate portraits to large international campaigns his various clients include Adidas, American Express, British Airways, Coca-Cola and Microsoft.