Social Impact / Better Bristol

National homelessness project kicks off in Bristol

By hannah cornford, Tuesday Oct 1, 2019

Homelessness charities across Bristol spent the summer hosting forum theatre workshops as part of a new project being led by national charity and theatre group Cardboard Citizens and Bristol Old Vic.

Cardboard Camps gives people with lived experience of homelessness the opportunity to tell their stories through theatre. Bristol24/7 is supporting the project as part of our Better Bristol initiative. The project will culminate in a three-week residency in October 2019 followed by a performance at Bristol Old Vic.

The workshops are led by experienced theatre practitioners and are focused around building empowerment and self-esteem in the participants, facilitating discussion around important issues and provoking social change.

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The process is often transformative for the performers, who gain valuable skills and an employability qualification through the residency. It helps to break down barriers with the audience, who are challenged to become part of the protagonist’s story, get up on stage and try to find ways they can change the outcome.

Cardboard Citizens’ theatre approach has contributed to changes in national homelessness policy such as the Homelessness Reduction Act of 2017, as well as engaging with MPs and decision-makers around the country. Cardboard Camps is bringing the approach to other cities in the UK, including Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle as part of long-term regional residencies.

“The Cardboard Camps approach is unique. As well as empowering the participants, most of whom have suffered through extremely adverse circumstances and allowing them to tell their story, it allows people to step into the shoes of those who have lived experience of homelessness,” Citz Champion for the project in Bristol, Owain Astles explains.

“When we tackle these issues together, in real world scenarios, preconceptions are challenged and new ideas and solutions are discovered.

“We’ll follow up the performance with a city-wide campaign, so these ideas are remembered, and action is taken. People know homelessness is an issue but they don’t always know why, or what they can do about it; this project aims to change that.”

Leading on from the performance will be an online campaign called Citizens Do, which will provide members of the public with basic actions they can do to help affect homelessness in Bristol. More information about the Citizens Do campaign will be available online and in the next edition of Bristol24/7.

Tickets for the Cardboard Camps performance are on sale now via

Read more: Bristol24/7 partner on project tackling homelessness

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