The Creative writing project that gave the homeless and those struggling with addiction a voice in print and on stage.
The Haven is a centre for former and active street drinkers, people with drug and alcohol abuse issues, the homeless, travellers, ex-prisoners and people with mental health issues for whom ‘community care’ is not working.
Started in Derry in September 2011, Haven Arts Collective was born out of a six week pilot project to see if service users would engage with creative writing as a means of self-expression and for enjoyment. Two years later the Collective is a self-regulating, vibrant entity dedicated to providing a voice for the voiceless and making the Haven ‘part of the community – not apart from it.’
For Haven’s 2013 project, ‘Every Bottle Has a story to Tell’, personal stories and writing from the service users were developed into a short piece of theatre, which was performed at the Playhouse Theatre by professional actors working alongside the Collective.
The play was sold out, received critical acclaim, and an anthology of the group’s writing has also sold out
“Group members were involved at every stage of the process, from designing and printing programmes, designing and building props, making costumes, doing make up, media interviews and hosting Q & A and feedback sessions after each performance,” says Felicity McCall.
“We achieved a miracle, engaging people who are by their own definition among society’s most marginalised, in art forms they would never have considered. The innovative drama and anthology told service users’ stories in their own words, which enlightened and informed the general public to empathise not sympathise.”
I was fortunate to see this production last year in Derry. It’s an amazing insight into the lives of Street drinkers. Please vote for this project as it’s a very worthy recipient of the Epic Awards. Go to the link below and register to vote. Thanks!