Blog: Cathy's journey to the House of Lords

Posted on: 24 February 2017

Written by: Michael Chandler

Today the Homelessness Reduction Bill went to the House of Lords, one of the final stages (with another three to go) before it can become law.

Cathy production shotAnd on Monday, we will be presenting Cathy – our massively successful national tour about a mother and daughter becoming homeless – to the House of Lords; alongside our Cathy Laws – the Laws suggested by more than 600 members of the audience throughout the tour. This is being presented as part of the Homes for Cathy group's event.

Cardboard Citizens is proud of our role in supporting the bill to this stage, and particularly in its very early stages. In 2014, Cardboard Citizens recruited and supported a group of our Member actors, all with their own experiences of homelessness, to work with Crisis as 'mystery shoppers'. These mystery shoppers visited housing offices in various cities, presenting with different issues – from fleeing domestic violence to mental health issues, and all facing rough sleeping that night – to capture the responses to homelessness from each of these housing offices.

This research formed Crisis' Turned Away report; which then led to Crisis' No One Turned Away campaign; which led to the Homelessness Reduction Bill.

We continued to support this campaigning, with media appearances from our Members sharing their stories and experiences; feeding into reports for the DCLG (our Member Rep Mateasa was particularly prominent here); up to very recently repeating the 'mystery shopper' model with three of our Member actors participating in Channel 4's Dispatches investigating women experiencing rough sleeping.

This is coupled of course by our wider work raising awareness through our performances – using the model of Augusto Boal’s “Legislative Theatre” – and projects; and of course working hard to improve the lives of our Members.

We recognise the challenges implementing the new legislation may pose to local authorities across the UK. To this end, we have developed training for local authority staff using our Forum Theatre training model and a piece based on Cathy, to enable council staff to explore and identify ways they can better support people facing homelessness and adapt to the new legislation. This has already been used by Tower Hamlets Housing Team and others, feeding directly into their housing consultation and staff plans. For more info contact….

After Cathy visits the House of Lords, we will be 'squatting' for a month in a corner of London Bridge at the brand new venue The Bunker to present Home Truths: An Incomplete History of Housing Told in Nine Plays. Visit The Bunker website for more information and to book tickets.