This NatSci is selling photos of your favourite Cambridge places to raise money for the fight against domestic abuse

Calls to The National Abuse Helpline have increased by 50 per cent since the beginning of lockdown

Yesterday (14th May), Alex Roberts – a second year BioNatsci at Magdalene – set up ‘Cambridge Charity Polaroids’; a one-man initiative sending photographs of people’s favourite places in Cambridge through the post in exchange for donations to Refuge, a charity working towards the protection of women and children from domestic violence.

By filling in a simple Google Form, buyers can request any number of polaroids to be kept as reminders of our university; be it an aesthetic shot of the River Cam, or a late-night pic of Gardies to commemorate all those post-clubbing photoshoots with Greta.

So far, Alex has had a huge amount of location requests, ranging from the UL (didn’t realise people actually went there) to the John’s punt pool where a bunch of baby swans have just hatched!

Photo Credit: Alex Roberts

The minimum donation amount for these polaroids is £2.60 for the coverage of postage and materials, with a suggested amount of £5 per photo. Payment can be made by bank transfer or via Paypal, and all profits will go directly to Refuge.

Refuge currently runs several specialist services for vulnerable women and children, including the National Domestic Hotline, which has seen a 50 per cent increase in use since the beginning of lockdown in March. 1.6 million UK women experienced domestic abuse last year, and many are currently stuck in isolation with these abusers. The helpline exists so that victims and those worried about loved ones can seek advice. It’s free to call and operates 24-7, every day of the year.

Alex decided to set up this project after rediscovering his old Polaroid camera at the end of term: “I’ve been taking photos to pass the time while in lockdown in Cambridge. A couple of friends told me they were pretty good and suggested I should start selling them. I thought I could use this as an opportunity to give people who are missing uni a little piece of it, while also making some money for charity.

“I chose Refuge because they are a really important source of help for people experiencing domestic abuse. Reports have suggested that incidence and escalation of domestic abuse have gone up since lockdown began, along with the numbers of people accessing help, and I think now is the time to draw attention to the issue.”

Photo Credit: Alex Roberts

Buyers of these polaroids have so far been eager to support Alex’s cause. Third-year HSPS student, Laura Belt, says: “It seems like the perfect gift for the times! I ordered one for a friend as a graduation gift, they live in a different country so it might be some time before we see each other again. This was just a little something that’s both deeply personal (it’s our fave spot to eat lunch in the summer in college) and provides a sense of closure, saying goodbye to our time in Cam. Plus, it’s a way to give to charity at the moment without breaking the bank!”

Alex is not the first Cambridge student who’s using his talents to raise money during the lockdown. Last week, a Cambridge grad set up a global relay for ‘Doctors without Borders’, and in mid-April, a Christ’s Master’s Student established an online platform to help local business survive during COVID-19.

For those of us missing our home away from home at university, a polaroid of one of our favourite places could help us to reclaim a small piece of the Easter Term we might have had.

Cover Image Credit: Alex Roberts