Nicky Goulder talks about how an acting workshop is supporting vulnerable women in east London
For over five years, arts charity Create has helped vulnerable women in east London make steps to reshape their lives through the creative arts. In collaboration with international law firm Reed Smith LLP and U-Turn Women’s Project, Create’s workshops reach women of all ages who have been trapped in cycles of prostitution, drug addiction, physical abuse and homelessness from an early age.
Since July, the women have been working with Create’s professional actor and playwright James Baldwin, collaborating to write original stories and outline plots that feature a problem, a journey, an obstacle and a solution, echoing the challenges that they have experienced themselves. This has allowed them to share their experiences and expand their support networks to include other vulnerable women within their community.
Every year, women are forced into prostitution through a combination of homelessness, drug use, poverty and domestic violence, which accounted for 30 per cent of all violent crime in Tower Hamlets in 2009-10. Create uses the creative arts to inspire self-confidence in vulnerable women who attend the U-Turn centre, encouraging them to develop trust, friendships, communication skills and pride through collaborative activities. These skills and qualities can then be used in day-to-day life, helping the women reclaim control over their futures.
Margaret has a history of drug use but is currently in recovery and has been abstinent for seven years. She attended the centre initially for general support with benefits and some ongoing confidence issues, but is more confident and independent now. ‘You learn so much,’ she says of the workshops. ‘Communicating with other people that you really don’t know and things like that. A lot of my confidence went and I have just started to get my confidence back since coming here. It had been gone for years and years.’
Nicky Goulder is CEO of Create