I was very ill before I came to Cardboard Citizens, struggling with serious mental health issues, and was constantly in and out of hospital. My mental health team referred me to Cardboard Citizens and ACT NOW and I started just a week after rehearsals for Life Ain’t No Musical. I just wanted something to do during the day as well as getting the mental health people off my case. Surprisingly, I started to love it.
From the start I’ve had 100% support from Cardboard Citizens and ACT NOW. My proudest moment was devising and performing in Life Ain’t No Musical. It was really special and I also made two very close friends from it, we are still really good friends now a few years down the line. Life Ain’t No Musical was basically our life stories. When I’ve [opened up] in the past people have been like “you’ve gotta do this and then do that” but with Cardboard Citizens people just listened. It felt like counselling but much better.
It’s important to have trust even through the hardest days, the hardest experiences. I’m much more open than I was. I never had confidence, and I couldn’t sing – but I can now! I’d never accomplished something, never been the full way with anything before I did this. After ACT NOW, Cardboard Citizens referred me to the National Youth Theatre and I did their Playing Up 2 course which then enabled me to get into uni. I’m now into my 2nd year of Birmingham School of Acting to do a degree in Community Applied Theatre. It’s all thanks to ACT NOW. I now have a dream of working in prison theatre. And courage, I never had any of that. Cardboard Citizens has taught me a lot.
You don’t have to be in the streets to be homeless, it’s also about insecurity, being displaced or not having a place that you call home, somewhere where you always feel like you’re welcome. In 10 years I’d like to have my own flat and hopefully have my own theatre company for young offenders and those at-risk of offending. I want to leave something behind.