Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

Issue 120 [May-June 2019] RECOVERY

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The play's the thing

May 01 2019
Let's talk: After the Rising performance at City Hall there was a panel debate about changes to the law. It was chaired by Adrian Jackson OBE, the CEO of Cardboard Citizens. The panel consisted of Helen Beresford (NACRO), Gordon Booker (Citz), Femi Keeling (writer), James Murray (Deputy Mayor), Emma Revie (Trussel Trust) and Petra Salva (St Mungo’s). © Cardboard Citizens Let's talk: After the Rising performance at City Hall there was a panel debate about changes to the law. It was chaired by Adrian Jackson OBE, the CEO of Cardboard Citizens. The panel consisted of Helen Beresford (NACRO), Gordon Booker (Citz), Femi Keeling (writer), James Murray (Deputy Mayor), Emma Revie (Trussel Trust) and Petra Salva (St Mungo’s). © Cardboard Citizens

This interview with the Deputy Mayor of London, James Murray, was held at City Hall. Report by Ian Kalman

Mr Murray’s duties cover residential development and rough sleeping. Here he talks about Rising the play that Cardboard Citizens performed in front of him and members of the public. He has agreed at a later date to talk about rough sleeping.


Q: What did you think of Cardboard’s performance of Rising?
It was a really powerful story and a unique way to tell the story. I particularly like the way after the main show, the audience were brought back to question their assumptions. This led on to questions about policy and whether they should be changed, or new ones brought into the country. It was a novel and interesting way to present the issue. I felt that everyone was engaged and afterwards I spoke to some people who were continuing to talk about it.

Q: Did you know all the issues brought up in the play come from research by the company?
Now here at City Hall we work with many councils and we are keen on getting the services right but we can unintentionally forget the human side. For me I think the play was a good reminder of what is happening out there.

Q: Years ago if a person left prison, they had accommodation waiting for them. Now this does not happen. Why?

If you look at the overall picture of homelessness, it has doubled from 10 years ago and now it is a national problem and a national disgrace. While here at City Hall we are working with charities and faith groups and are doing as much as we can, but there must be more pressure put on the ministers to make a reversal on the policies which are forcing more people on the streets.

Q: Why are people not able to apply for Universal Credit just before release?

This is a good example of a broad approach that the government has got wrong. Over the past 10 years they have made significant cuts to the welfare system again and again. This has affected many people, as has universal credit. I hear of too many people not being able to get by and they then find themselves homeless.

Q: Who is at fault?
Well the buck stops with the Prime Minister, that is the system we have in this country. Yes we do have ministers, who are acting on her behalf, but in the end it is the Prime Minister’s responsibility and she has had many years of service in the government. It is right to identify who has caused this but what makes me particularly angry is when you hear ministers pretending, or maybe it’s a lack of understanding, that the policies they have made have nothing to do with creating homelessness. It is time they acknowledge this and make a real concerted effort to combat it.


  • Visit www.cardboardcitizens.org.uk/new-tour-hostels-and-prisons-rising

Get trained up

James Murray from City Hall says these are two good places to help
ex-prisoners find training and work:

  1. Change Please is a coffee company and they help homeless people by training them up as baristas with the aim that at the end of their training they will end up with a coffee making job. www.changeplease.org
  2. We also have funded Beam, that uses crowd funding to help people to get on to training courses that will lead to employment. https://beam.org

Issue 120 [May-June 2019] RECOVERY

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