We’ve all been there: seen someone on the street and wondered how they found themselves in that situation. On Thursday 16 May, a brand new ‘play for voices’ will give an audience at Pontio Bangor a rare insight into the real-life situations which lead to homelessness.

Coordinated through the National Lottery funded BLAS youth participation programme, over a period of five weeks ten students from Ysgol Friars studying drama and health and social care visited St Mary’s Hostel in Bangor to speak with service users. The conversations were recorded and then developed into a verbatim (word for word) play by the young people under the guidance of playwright and theatre practitioner Branwen Davies.

Branwen said: “It’s easy to have preconceptions of homeless people, but rarely are their voices heard. This is an honest account of homelessness in Bangor today which is at times difficult to hear but also full of humour and heart. The pupils asked frank questions and the residents were extremely generous and open sharing their lives and experiences with us.”

Participants in the project varied from familiar faces on Bangor High Street to people who’ve never spoken of their situation before.

Hayley Owen, Manager at St Mary’s Hostel by North Wales Housing added:
“The Service Users really enjoyed being part of the project and speaking to the students. It has given them an opportunity to tell their side of the story and how they ended up homeless and needing St Mary’s Hostel and North Wales Housing’s support.”

“I’m so proud to be part of the project and we can’t wait for everyone to see the final performance.”

Mared Huws, Arts Development Co-ordinator at Pontio said: “The Lleisiau/Voices project is one that continues to astound me. In the past, we’ve told the stories of people living with dementia and once again, the Voices project is aimed at reducing isolation, bridging worlds and telling those lesser-told stories to deepen our understanding of those living in our community. On a personal level, my understanding of how circumstances can lead people from all walks of life to find themselves homeless has been vastly improved through the bravery of the individuals taking part in this very special project.”

Gabrielle, a student taking part in the Street Voices project added: “This experience has humbled me a lot and made me appreciate the things and people I have around me a lot more. Hopefully I will appreciate it for the rest of my life.”

The play, along with a Q&A session with the young people who took part, will be presented in Pontio Studio by Gwion Hallam, who has been part of the Lleisiau/Voices project since its inception in 2017. It is a bilingual event.

Tickets are £3 with a contribution of the proceeds going to St Mary’s Hostel in Bangor.

Attendees are encouraged to bring donations such as sleeping bags, clothes, tents and camping equipment on the request of St Mary’s Hostel. You can book on the Pontio website www.pontio.co.uk or 01248 38 28 28 or in person.

Street Voices/Lleisiau’r Stryd, Thursday 16 May, 7pm Pontio Studio Theatre.