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Whitechapel theatre company scoops £150k to help homeless people whose mental health suffered in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 September 2020

Cardboard Citizens in Whitechapel is helping homeless people whose mental health has suffered during lockdown. Picture: Matt Allen

Cardboard Citizens in Whitechapel is helping homeless people whose mental health has suffered during lockdown. Picture: Matt Allen

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An East End theatre company is helping homeless people whose mental health has suffered during lockdown.

The charity has scooped a �152,420 grant from City Bridge Trust. Picture: Matt AllenThe charity has scooped a �152,420 grant from City Bridge Trust. Picture: Matt Allen

Cardboard Citizens based in Greenfield Road, Whitechapel, has scooped a £152,420 grant to help it focus on trauma in its work.

The boost to its coffers comes thanks to City Bridge Trust which is the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

Geetha Rabindrakumar, Cardboard Citizens’ director of social change, said: “Our members often tell us they come in feeling lost, unhappy, scared and alone, but they find an open, welcoming space that is free of judgement, where they can develop their creative talents and feel part of a community.

“The funding will enable us to do more to help members make sense of and recover from trauma in their lives, while taking part in artistic work that can inspire and challenge other people.”

About 40 per cent of Cardboard Citizens’ members have mental health needs. Its staff encourage people who have experienced homelessness to tread the boards.

The charity’s approach – which focuses on understanding and addressing past neglect, abuse and conflict – is used in therapy, but not widely in the arts.

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Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “Poor mental health is both a cause and a consequence of homelessness, and many homeless people live with experiences of past trauma.

“This funding will enable the charity to address these issues in its theatre work and the one-to-one support it offers members, putting them on course for recovery and improved wellbeing.”

During lockdown, Cardboard Citizens has doubled one-to-one support offered to members over the phone and online.

It has also been doing online workshops, including London On Lockdown 1664-2020, featuring readings from author Daniel Defoe’s book, Journal Of The Plague Year.

Chelsie has been attending Cardboard Citizens for four years.

She said: “If you’ve ever experienced homelessness or if you’re feeling lost or vulnerable, you want to be around supportive people that understand who you are and what you’re going through.

“I was suffering really bad depression when I first came here, and they’ve helped build me up. The depression’s eased up, I’m more talkative and I’ve got my confidence back in so many ways.

“To actually have fun, be creative and be part of something that you know impacts on other people, that’s what Cardboard Citizens has given me – it’s like an extended family.”


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