Homeless people in Lancaster are fundraising to create their own theatre group which they will then take on tour around prisons.
The aim is to give inmates the message that change is possible as some of the homeless are themselves ex-offenders.
Sam Lang first took drugs at the age of 12 and spent 20 years in and out of prison before turning his life around with the help of the Lancaster and District Homeless Action Service (LDHAS).
A recovering addict, he played the lead role of “Ebenezer Dealer” in a version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol rewritten by the homeless themselves.
He said: “We’ve got to send the message that you don’t have to continue committing crime and taking drugs. A lot of people in prison don’t have hope but we can give them hope.”
He is part of a creative arts group based at LDHAS which aims to raise £1,000 for a touring theatre group with the help of Lancaster University.
Theatre Studies student Emily Jones helped run the drama sessions with the homeless at the Dukes’ Theatre DT3.
She said: “It’s amazing to see the change in some of the guys.
“Some of them are ex-offenders and recovering drug users but by the end of the 10 week sessions, they are dedicated and passionate and they have a reason to get up in the morning.”
Emily has also been involved in helping the homeless group learn how to make tie-dye socks.
These will be sold at the University’s outlet in St Nicholas Arcades, Campus in the City, from February 19-21.
Colin Farrah is another member of the homeless group who said drama had provided a lifeline.
He said: “It gives more confidence to speak in front of a crowd and it’s made all the difference.”
Sam has now got a flat to live with the help of staff at LDHAS.
He added: “They give you something to focus on, something to commit to because I’d really struggle without support, but now I feel I’ve got some stability in my life.
“I’d like to write my life story because a lot of people in prison could relate to it.”