The Community Leader Programme was a three year funded partnership between the Booth Centre and the Royal Exchange Theatre which ran from September 2011 – September 2014.

Over the three years this innovative, outward facing programme used theatre processes and practice as creative tools to develop the social and personal skills of adults who have experienced homelessness. The overarching aim was to contribute to participants’ ability to resettle, find stability and address ongoing health and substance misuse issues.

A flexible programme of workshops was central to the methodology of the partnership, allowing participants to develop over the three years via a number of progression routes. The partnership demonstrated the value of an activity-based approach and aimed to inform new ways of working for homeless charities and arts organisations by sharing the outcomes of the work locally and nationally.

Each of the three years had an overarching theme:
Year One (starting Sept 11) - Discover: Introductory theatre workshops, low key performances and supported visits to cultural events to break down perceived barriers of the participants to attending cultural activity.
Year Two (starting Sept 12) – Develop: Further theatre skills development including short performances by the group. Opportunities for participants to progress to attending cultural events independently.
Year Three (starting Sept 13) – Disseminate: Opportunities for participants to progress to co-delivering workshops (focusing on games) as well as a one-day event and online resource to share the lessons learned through the project with other organisations.

Homeless people are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society and experience complex multiple needs. The programme achieved learning outcomes for the participants not only in the development of their theatre skills, but also improved team-work, communication, presentation and social skills. The programme contributed to reduced exclusion for homeless adults as an integrated part of their support to move them from rough sleeping – to temporary accommodation – to permanent accommodation, and provided them with the skills required to help them maintain tenancies in order to break the cycle of homelessness. The performances created by the group over the three years were attended by members of the public and promoted through the Royal Exchange Theatre to its wider audiences, increasing the understanding of issues faced by homeless people.

This programme was an attempt by the Royal Exchange Theatre to look genuinely at how we can break down barriers for homeless people to accessing cultural facilities. This is a neglected area and tackling the issue creatively and understanding what the impact might be on the organisation has implications for other cultural venues.

The Booth Centre Community Leader programme was supported by The Rayne Foundation and the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust.

 

RELATED LINKS
Timeline of the Royal Exchange Theatre / Booth Centre partnership
End of Year One Evaluation Report
End of Year Two Evaluation Report and  Appendix
End of Year Three Evaluation Report
Film of RET/BC project GO AWAY AND THINK ABOUT IT (2009)
Film of RET/BC project LOVE (2011)