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13 February, 2024

Volunteering…the heartbeat of our charity

13 February, 2024

I work voluntarily at Vita Nova as a theatre sound and lighting designer and as a lighting/sound technician in rehearsals and performances. I am also a peer mentor.

I have been working with the Celeste drama group since it began in 2021. There is a constant turnover of individuals and nationalities within the group and some have limited English and poor conversation skills when they first join. Most have never acted in a play before which comes with added challenges working in English which has sounds, stresses, and intonation that are different from their own languages. But they quickly become engaged as they work together as a team towards performance.

The group first performed the Refugee Nativity play in December 2021. Such was the success that it was performed again in 2022 and 2023. In the summer of 2022, the group rehearsed  Hopefool, a new play about the UK immigration process. This was performed at a funded Vita Nova Jubilee celebration and followed with a tour in Dorset in 2023 to great acclaim. The most recent performance of the Refugee Nativity in December 2023 received a standing ovation. The hoots and cheers from the audience added to the cast’s sense of personal achievement but also a feeling of acceptance in the wider community which came to have a greater understanding of the contemporary issues of those displaced from their homelands and the uncertainties of a future in the UK.

I know from working on drama productions with people in recovery from alcohol and drug misuse that taking part in drama has a very positive effect on participant’s mental health and well-being. The Celeste group benefits similarly which is evident from their growing confidence, camaraderie across nationalities and fun-filled rehearsals even when the subject matter of the play is serious. I have very much enjoyed being part of the team and their journeys.
Ted Street, January 2024