Blog: From doing to doing more

Posted on: 07 June 2018

Written by: Charlie Marshall

Cardboard Citizens Member and tutor Lisa Ogun reflects on how a chance encounter with the company led to a life-changing career path.

I joined Cardboard Citizens (lovingly regarded by all as Citz) in October 2012, after watching and audience-participating in their open-air Olympics performance in Bishopsgate Square that summer. I had attended to watch a friend in it and, as we chatted afterwards, I followed her and the company of actors back to the old Cardboard Citizens offices for them to claim expenses and get changed. The companionable atmosphere I felt within the group was infectious and I wanted to be part of this magical friendly feeling. At that time I had not known that anyone who had experienced homelessness on any level was welcome. But because I fitted into that category, Terry invited me to attend the weekly Forum Theatre workshops held at Crisis and slowly I started to participate more with the organisation.

"I have so much gratitude from Citz for seeing in me what I had been struggling to see for so long"

Doing the Forum Theatre training week gave me renewed confidence and later that year doing the Mentoring course that Cardboard Citizens offer gave me ‘the kick up the bum’ that I had needed to get my act into gear. I looked at my brilliant tutor and knew I could be just that  a brilliant tutor. The new friends made, great support given and just all-round feeling of belonging made a huge impact to my low confidence levels that my deteriorating health and lack of employment had depleted.

With this renewed confidence I was able to reflect on reality and remember that actually my passion lies in education.

The nationwide epidemic of increased debt from pay-day loans, especially within the communities with low-income, had me seething so I asked Citz if they would fund a Financial Management course for me to learn how to teach others how to manage their finances better, especially in the light of the then impending Universal Credit, which they did. I had promised to, in turn, run Finance Management workshops for the Members.

Once I’d completed the courses (Lloyds Money Skills), it coincided with Citz wanting to offer more accredited courses. I spoke to Michael Chandler [Cardboard Citizens' Programme Director] about wanting to be part of this and was drafted in to initially deliver the Money unit of the Functional Skills Maths course. However, once I had looked at the course content, I asked if I could run the course in its entirety! I was granted this and ran a pilot Maths course in Entry level Maths in 2016. The Quality Assurer and Course Verifier partner-organisation, Phoenix Futures, identified in me a potential to be and do more and recommended that I take on the NCFE Course Assessor course enabling me to not only tutor in Maths at a higher standard but to also assess the other Functional Skills and NCFE courses Citz provide Members, including the very same Mentoring course I had taken three and a half years prior; the one that had given me the proverbial ‘kick up the bum’. So, now I help others to try attain the same level of confidence and skills I had gained with the hope that the educational confidence gives them that ‘kick up their bums’.

I have so much gratitude from Citz for my journey of development, for seeing in me what I had been struggling to see for so long and for the opportunities to do what I’m passionate about for everyone.

Lisa Ogun

If you are would like to become a Member of Cardboard Citizens, find out more information here.