Cardboard Citizens have given me so much during my transition.
Before I met Cardboard Citizens, I was in a transition period, changing my whole life around. I was in a drug and alcohol treatment centre but I had came to a point where I was stagnating, where I was living one way of life for so long that I didn’t know what else to do.
Someone suggested I do some voluntary work so I dragged myself to a drugs drop-in centre in Hackney. The coordinator told me about Cardboard Citizens and sent me to a workshop. I was hooked. Since then I’ve done the workshops, forum training and acted in two Hostel Tours. The last tour was really hard work but I felt really supported. The journey of discovery and of creating a world in those unlikely environments is awesome. I got to reap the rewards of going home to my newborn baby after we’d played 43 shows in hostels, day centres and prisons. There were difficult times but we were able to get through it by talking it all through.
During rehearsals, I researched a character who was a social worker. I felt like they do a really good job even though they get a lot of stick. I was going to go back to college and study to be a social worker. The last week of the tour we’d done a show at YMCA for all their staff. There I met one of the heads of department
who head-hunted me to be a trainee project worker. I have been working on a mental health project in Croydon since. I’ve built amazing rapport with the customers and my colleagues, and have already been promoted.
I left home when I was 15 and was homeless and displaced for six years until I went into prison. I have real experience of what it’s like. And the world has given back now. I’ve come full circle. It has been a real challenge being in an office environment and a work setting; having to be professional all the time, having to change yet again. I’m working hard at keeping my new job and keeping my family provided for while being the best support worker I can be.
I’m working with young gang members, people who are going through psychosis from smoking too much weed. I’m using my experience and the training I’ve been given to push people in a positive direction. A lot of those people I’ll be pushing towards Cardboard Citizens because they have given me so much during my transition.
I want to keep theatre as part of my life, maybe get into dramatherapy. Not everyone will want to get involved in the arts. But for those that do, it will open up so much inside of them. It is beyond words how essential it is to have those opportunities. I just can’t thank Cardboard Citizens enough.