Photographed by Poppy Holwill

I have created a documentary series based in Jaywick Sands. One of the most deprived towns within the UK and mostly known for its feature on Benefits by the Sea. It’s based in Clacton-on-Sea and has received a lot of bad press in the news mostly for its poorly kept streets and the types of people that live there. 

Most of the residents I spoke to all praised this sense of community within the town, this togetherness and how they all look out for each other. I wanted to document life in Jaywick and share this community spirit to help change people’s perceptions and break the stigma associated with the residents. This project has given the residents a chance to show how they see themselves and how they want to be portrayed. 

The shallow depth of field excluded my subjects from their surroundings, taking them out of context to stop any negative connotations being made between them and their location. My landscapes capture the true beauty of the town, which shows this tranquillity. Although this is a deprived town, I have chosen not to show this side, as that gets enough coverage and I didn’t want a negative attitude to be portrayed in my photographs.

I went to The Happy Club which is run by Danny Sloggett, and a few of the other residents. It’s a monthly meeting that allows the residents to get together to raise any questions or queries about what is happening in the town. They have done a lot so far, making Jaywick a safer, cleaner and better environment. The Happy Club also hold events that bring the community together and each meeting consists of games and hot drinks afterwards, allowing a time for everyone to come together and socialise. Jaywick Sands is a hidden beauty full of misrepresented people. 

They see Jaywick as a lovely and friendly place which is what I wanted to capture and portray in my series. The people of Jaywick were so happy to be involved and I loved getting to know many of the residents and taking their portraits. I hope this series changes the way the residents and town are perceived, in a more positive way that will overturn the stigma of a run-down, unloved and forgotten town. Most importantly to highlight how close and supportive the community is. Shine on Jaywick.

See more of Poppy’s work on her website.