When I met Cardboard Citizens I’d recently moved into a hostel round the corner and I was getting used to living that life, because I’d lost my job as a marketing manager.
I joined Crisis Skylight and went to the Forum Theatre workshop. I think it was the second time I went there and I met Cathy who introduced me to Cardboard Citizens and she told me about ACT NOW and invited me down to do a project. I’m really proud of being part of the Seeing Red project (the group produced a forum theatre piece on problems around debt and money management faced by young homeless people). Putting that together in 5 days and then performing it was great. I also took part in a workshop with some guys from Sony Music and I was really proud of that – I got quite emotional about it. And being recommended to join Morley (College – level 3 acting course) was another proud moment.
I think the fact that Cardboard Citizens even exists is amazing because we have somewhere to go and focus and unleash our creative energy. I felt that the support was there when I needed it and I honestly wouldn’t have even thought of speaking to anyone else. I don’t really ever speak to people about any stuff and I felt staff where open enough for me to come and seek support from. I was also told about a mystery shopping gig by Cardboard Citizens which was paid work! Having that has also allowed me to say that I’ve done some paid acting work and I can put that on my CV. In this case it actually helped me get the job in Harrods – they liked that I act because you have to put on a character whilst you’re working with children (in the toy dept).
Homeless people need access to arts to let out their energy. They need to talk about these things. And MPs should try and live a day as what is considered as homeless. Live the restrictions of a hostel, especially of a 16-25 yr old. You get £56.80 a week to live on and they expect you to go interviews that are possibly an hour and a half away and you spend most of your money on searching for a job, and you don’t have money to buy credit...just try and live that life – even if it’s just for a signing on period of 2 weeks – and see how it is. That would be the best thing – and record it – I would love to see what happens after that.
Watch Mateasa's short film for the BBC