A Year in the Life of...Katherine our Programme Director

Posted on: 15 December 2011

Written by: Anonymous

I joined Cardboard Citizens in Sep 2010, and here is the story of my time here so far.

Deep end, thrown in, swim. This pretty much sums up my first 3 months. I was first tasked with ensuring the hostel tour was successfully delivered, which in 2010 also involved dealing with a small vehicular collision, an actor breaking their arm and a showcase week that had a members meeting sandwiched between a matinee and evening performance just for good measure! Combined with trying to secure a place on the Work Programme as a Specialist Sub-contractor (this won’t mean much to many of you, but if it does thank you for the sympathy I know you are transmitting to me over the tinterweb!), and recruiting 2 new members of staff – it was a bit of a manic beginning to say the least.

However, it was immediately exciting and the commitment of my colleagues, combined with the feedback from the members about their experiences with us, meant that I felt happy about my decision to join the company and looked forward to 2011. When Tas and Mike joined Cathy and I in the Programme Team in Dec 2010 it felt great to have a team in place and that 2011 would be epic!

And it has been a superb year indeed. We won a place on the Work Programme, participated in many many carnivals over the summer, fought London Councils decision to cut our grant (kind of won the argument, but lost the money anyway.....) and we saw some outstanding achievements from our Members.

The Rough Pearl project led many of our male members to wear full on wedding dresses, and raised money to contribute to our ongoing effort to find a new home for the company. This project also saw Errol dress as an human sized oyster, and alongside Adrian dressed as a miscellaneous bird I went on to wear this same costume on the cuts protest march. I had many compliments from our fellow marchers, in particular from the French Trade Unionists. It is to my eternal shame that I abandoned the costume in Trafalgar Square at the end, but it became unmanageable and after we all used it to sit on at the end whilst enjoying some much needed refreshment it was clear the oyster had reached the end of its natural life.

We had a cracking summer youth show, supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the BBC “Life Ain't No Musical”, as well as various sharings and celebrations. We also lost two members who were very dear to us, but the sadness regarding their loss was eased by the memories of their achievements, both with Citz and elsewhere. The Hostel Tour this year has been a runaway success, especially from my perspective as Mike has done a superb job of project managing it. The actors have done themselves, and the play proud and feedback has been cracking.

Looking back over this year I can say I immensely enjoyed working with my colleagues, and getting to know all their little characteristics that make for an interesting working environment! I can truly say we all get on, and that is an absolute blessing. Plus, everyone puts up with my mammoth comic sneezing, so I feel lucky not to have been ostracised (they are really, really loud). Plus, a day in the trees at Go Ape solidified some relationships beyond the call of duty, but what happens at Go Ape stays at Go Ape...

My team in particular are a joy, and display superb team working skills, especially when facing difficult situations and challenges, of which they have had a fair few this year. They also combine their resourcefulness, expertise, passion and compassion with some key professional skills. These include the ability to mimic all the dance moves to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, a sense of humour so dry it can take me 2 minutes to realise the joke and some serious fashion choices that make the rest of us feel dull in comparison!

We end 2011 having done a good job, and that really is something to be proud of. The company is strong, we could do with a bit more in the kitty, but ACE retained us as a National Portfolio Organisation, the BBC commissioned Mincemeat for Radio and we held a massive fundraising dinner – we got game! I truly believe 2012 will be a fantabulous year. And so long as I get to impersonate a mollusc in public again, all willl be well.


With thanks to

Arts Council England Lottery funded