Meridian Raw: Changing lives in Exeter through photography

One of the things I love about Exeter is its big heart.  All over the city there are people working hard to make positive changes in the community and in other peoples lives.  Amongst them are TEDxExeterExeter Bike Workshop (who help the homeless into work) and The Boat Shed, a summer  theatre pop-up / workspace / art gallery / community hub on The Quay.  It’s exciting, inspiring and rather humbling to hear about all these projects in our midst – and the passionate people who are behind them. One such individual is Clive Chilvers who, along with his team, is busy creating a photographic community in Exeter and empowering people through photography.

Clive is a professional freelance photographer living in Exeter who also runs the social media for the brilliant TEDxExeter.  His latest venture is a social enterprise called Meridian Raw (Community Interest Company), whose focus is to use photography as to empower marginalised communities and socially excluded individuals. 

Exeter Quay © Julio Freitas/Meridian Raw CIC/Devon Grapevine 2015

Through photography, workshops, exhibitions and training, Clive and his partners Amy Coupland and Mel Smith, are trying to bring about social change for small groups of people around Exeter by encouraging users to create a photo-stories or themes that are personal, self-reflective or that highlight issues that affect them directly or that can affect their community.  Their most recent community project is Future Focus which has been running since November 12016, empowering the people of Exeter to explore their external and internal worlds, and addressing such topics as mental health, community, and diversity.” 

Clive says: “We designed this project to be inclusive to everyone.. our philosophy is about bringing people together through photography, irrespective of their circumstances.  Mental health can affect anyone, anytime and by bringing people together you can reduce the stigma surrounding mental and hopefully make a difference to the local community”

Clive and co are also developing projects on dementia and memory loss whilst continuing their work on mental health and recovery, they are also looking into phototherapy and therapeutic photography.

For their most recent project, entitled Future Focus, Meridian have partnered with Mind and The Bridge Collective and have received funding from The BIG Lottery. Focussing on positivity, empowerment and the future, the fourteen week photography course culminates in an exhibition at Exeter Community Centre from the October 1st until the end of November. 

Clover Raindrop © Jasper Hill/Meridian Raw CIC/RISE Recovery 2014 


How Meridian is changing lives from the participants perspective:

‘It gave me the chance to focus on my photography and allow myself to take pictures”

“In general, these workshops made me a little less reclusive”

“This project gave me the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and enjoy other peoples company”


This article was first published in Exeter life Magazine.

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