Whitechapel charity release poignant video showing difficulties of youth homelessness

PUBLISHED: 17:10 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:10 14 February 2020

Cardboard Citizens Youth Workshop (2) - Act Now group for 16-25-year-olds. Credit: Matt Allen - Cardboard Citizens.

Cardboard Citizens Youth Workshop (2) - Act Now group for 16-25-year-olds. Credit: Matt Allen - Cardboard Citizens.


Charity Cardboard Citizens have released a poignant video as part of the #noboxnolabel initiative which seeks to destigmatise youth homelessness.

The short video was filmed by the Whitechapel charity's Act Now group, a collective of 16-25-year-olds who have all experienced some form of homelessness.

The production follows member EmDrizz, whose original voiceover depicts the struggles young people face trying to manage an already tough period alongside housing instability.

Emdrizz currently lives in a hostel, and explains how he wakes up feeling "mentally exhausted" and blacklisted by society because of his situation.

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The one solace for him is the Act Now class held by the charity every Wednesday night. In this space EmDrizz can be totally free and open, which he says has helped in "so many ways". He credits "Cardboard City" with transforming him from a "recluse" to someone who now "speaks up".

The reason for this is the lack of "labels" at Act Now — there EmDrizz isn't the guy who lives in a hostel — he's the guy who is there to "just act and express".

Cardboard Citizen's communications manager Tom says that this is the exact message the video seeks to put across: "Our members are just like everyone else - they experience the same issues as any other young person. The only difference is that housing problems both inform and compound those issues."

According to Tom, part of the motivation was to give group members "ownership over what they want to say". It's their experience, and only the unique voice of someone like EmDrizz can convey it properly.

Tom remarks that he and his colleagues were moved by watching the video, despite being exposed to these issues every day. He says that this is down to the "authenticity" of EmDrizz's words, as well as the realisation that their work is making a difference.

The charity aims to offer a creative hub for excluded people so that they don't feel defined by homelessness. In the case of EmDrizz, they are achieving that. For more information visit

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