Birmingham Rep collaborates with Birmingham Changing Futures Together

New short film will demonstrate the services available to homelessness and vulnerable.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has collaborated with Birmingham Changing Futures Together to create a new short film which aims to demonstrate the work of the Lead Worker/Peer Mentor service, a specialised scheme assisting individuals experiencing the traumas of homelessness, addiction, offending and mental health.

The Lead Worker/Peer Mentor service ran over the course of four and a half years from 2015-2019, aiming to match the skills of a Lead Worker with the life experience of a Peer Mentor to improve access to services and outcomes for individuals experiencing multiple and complex needs. Birmingham Changing Futures Together is a collaboration between Shelter, Birmingham Volunteer Service Council, MIND Birmingham and SIFA Fireside.

Teams at The Rep closely collaborated with those involved in the project to create a short film which includes animation in a simple yet dramatic format to explain the model and demonstrate the benefits of the LWPM service. It is hoped the film will encourage other organisations to adopt its methods of working, therefore improving overall service provision for individuals who are experiencing multiple and complex needs.

The Rep and project partners wanted to find a creative way to advocate for the vital work of the LWPM project. Over the course of a year through regular sessions and creative direction from The Rep, participants explored a number of approaches.

Ultimately, the experts by experience likened a recovery journey to that of characters from the classic story of The Wizard of Oz, who find the answers they seek within themselves. The concept felt exciting and engaging, all informed from those at the heart of the LWPM project – the genesis, the script and performing of animated sequences, all being led by the project participants.

Alex Summers, Director of Creative Learning at The Rep said; “It has been a great pleasure to work on this valuable and pioneering project during the months of lockdown. Once we had formed the creative vision with the teams at Birmingham Changing Futures Together, thanks to workshops and creative discussions, The REP enlisted the expert help of Ergo Films and animator Gareth Wright to bring the story to life.

“We are so pleased with the final result and hope that the film demonstrates the important and life changing work of the Lead Worker/Peer Mentor service.”

Vicky Hines, hub manager for Shelter Birmingham, said; “By using lived experience as an engagement and trust building tool, our peer mentor service works to provide flexible and creative support packages for people with complex needs, addressing all the issues they are facing in tandem.

“This new animated film, created with the support of The Rep, shows how this model of working can absolutely turn people’s lives around. It is a shining example of how the right support and guidance can make all the difference.”

Birmingham Changing Futures Together Learning and Evaluation Coordinator, Jan Pusiak said; “The Lead Worker/Peer Mentor service was a huge success in not only providing open, honest, fulfilling advice and stability for over 300 individuals but an estimated saving of over £3million for the government and local council by providing the right help for those in need. It is hoped that this new short film will demonstrate the importance and the relevance of the scheme and encourage others to adopt its model.”

The Lead Worker/Peer Mentor service was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. For more on the project and to view the video visit changingfuturesbham.co.uk.

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