Healthcare, sexism and homelessness issues faced in Zoom meeting
- Credit: Union Chapel
Actors role-played scenarios of injustice they had faced themselves, in an online Zoom meeting to troubleshoot healthcare, sexism and homelessness issues.
Islington councillors Sue Lukes, Diarmaid Ward, Richard Watts and the council's chief executive Linzi Roberts-Egan took part in the recent event hosted by Upper Street’s Union Chapel Project.
They were joined Ken Kanu, director of the charity Help on Your Doorstep which works with vulnerable people, and Alex James, theatre relations manager for the Arts Council.
Scenes were played out by the eight actors using the tool of “legislative theatre” to bring social justice challenges to light, and to prompt discussion.
In one the scenes, Detroy Smith played a homeless man 'John' who was seeking help with accommodation from a council housing officer.
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The officer asked him to provide a GP letter, but John was - ironically - refused a GP appointment because he couldn’t provide a home address.
When he eventually produced a letter, the officer told him he needed “more evidence” to confirm he was actually homeless.
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In another scene, a creative project manager who complained when a male colleague was given credit for her idea, was told there was “no need to be hysterical” by her male boss.
Chief executive of the Union Chapel Project, Michael Chandler, said: "Legislative theatre is a creative, participatory democracy tool. Communities create plays based on their experiences of unjust policies and rules, and then invite neighbours, activists, and decision-makers to improvise, debate and vote on potential policy solutions.
"We hope this event will lead to real change locally."
Cllr Watts said the scenes featuring John highlighted the need for a “culture change” in the housing sector involving "less gate keeping and tight regulation by law”.
Those in attendance submitted one-sentence proposals to the policy-makers with ideas on how to overcome the issues raised.
Policy-makers were then asked to respond with an “action plan”.
Councillors Ward and Watts and Ms Roberts-Egan proposed an action plan involving support and trauma training for social housing staff.
Mr James, meanwhile, pledged to push the Arts Council on their commitment to a 50/50 gender split.