A Leamington woman is using her talents to help create community drama workshops to help adults with experience of homelessness and mental health difficulties.
Emma Ormerod, who is a drama practitioner and mental health researcher, together with Lewis Ford, who has himself experienced homelessness, have founded the ‘Underground Lights Community Theatre’.
The workshops, which have been funded by Heart of England Community Foundation and Big Lottery, will be for around 15 people, culminating in a showcase for an invited audience. As a drama tutor for Crisis Skylight in Coventry and Warwickshire, Emma has worked with people experiencing homelessness in the community, teaching Open College Network Levels 1 and 2 in Performing Arts.
Her ten years’ experience working with socially excluded adults includes work at homeless drop-in centres in Leamington, Crisis in Birmingham, and a PhD in criminal justice, involving research into mental health.
Emma said: “As a teenager, I went through a period of mental ill health, just after finishing my GCSEs. But when Exeter Northcott put out a call for people to join an acting chorus, I decided to sign up, and pretty soon I found it was the glue that was holding me together.
“As well as giving me a focus, an outlet for creativity and opportunities to meet people, it gave me a space where I could put everything else I was feeling to one side. I think that was a big part of what led me towards this – it felt important to me personally.”
Lewis said: “Theatre changed my life. In the time between starting drama with Emma at Crisis Skylight Coventry and her leaving, I went from being a shut-in near-mute who was scared of just about everyone to wanting to run drama sessions for quite large groups of total strangers.
“Doing theatre built my confidence in myself and social skills so I was able to get on in other areas of life much better. So when Emma told me she was leaving Crisis to start up her own theatre company and invited me along for the ride, I had to say yes because I knew it just had to happen and I had to be part of it.”
Underground Lights Community Theatre begin the weekly workshops at the Belgrade Theatre at 2.30pm today (Friday January 11).
To register interest click here or call 0775 244 5595.