Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Journey of a Citizen

May 12 2016
Gloria Farren © Cardboard Citizens Gloria Farren © Cardboard Citizens
A longstanding member of Cardboard Citizens finds out what the company means to homeless people

Pavement volunteer Ian Kalman – a longstanding member of Cardboard Citizens – finds out more about what the company means to homeless people

Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company working with and for homeless people, is turning 25 this year. And over the coming months, the Pavement is helping them celebrate.

This autumn, the company is presenting a modern day retelling of the ground-breaking Ken Loach film Cathy Come Home, and is running a series of ‘Street to Stage’ workshops for homeless people who want to get involved. The production will explore how the issues raised in the film are still relevant in today’s society, focusing on the rise of people being moved out of the city due to the spiralling costs of London living. As always, Cardboard Citizens will be touring hostels, prisons, day centres as well as theatres all across England with the piece. In the theatres, there will be £1 ticket deals for people with experience – or the risk – of homelessness.

I have been a member since 2008 and now I write the newsletter, including our regular slot: Journey of a Member. Every time I interview a Citz member I am impressed by the effect the company has had on them and how they feel their life has changed.

One of those is Gloria Farren, who has been involved for two years now. So how did she get involved? “I had been doing arts and drama elsewhere and one day my project manager suggest to me that I give Cardboard Citizens a try – she referred me,” she explained. “I first attended the Forum Theatre workshop. Later on I got involved in several other projects. I felt coming here was like being part of one big happy family. It made me realise that there are quite a lot of vulnerable people in the world.”

I asked Gloria if there were any special points in the last two years. She said: “There have been many, but one of the best was the comedy workshop. I have always wanted to make people laugh as life for me has not always been happy. The first few sessions I just watched others get up and do their pieces. Finally I thought to myself: ‘I am going to get up and do this – after all, what is the point of coming here?’ We had been taught to use our own experiences. My life has not always been full of laughs, but I stood up and got a laugh. It made me feel so good. Afterwards others came up to me and said I had done really well.”

“One other thing that has happened recently that has me feel really good is that I stood for the position of members’ representative. I want to help people experience what I have and encourage them to come to the workshops. I was so proud when I got in.”

“I am also doing several other courses that are run here. I am completing a peer mentoring course. I know it will help me and through this I will be able to help others. Since coming here I seem to find my life has got better. I feel more positive about myself and I feel I can finally be true to myself.”

What Gloria has said has been voiced to me by many members. They have all talked of how their life has changed. So if you want to give it a try, you can phone Matt on 020 7377 8948 or email matt@cardboardcitizens.org.uk.

For more details, visit the Cardboard Citizens website: www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk/

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