Steering toward a better life

John at Pirates Castle
John Watts shares how social enterprises and charities working together has made a positive difference in his life.

The motto of the Pirates Castle - 'activities boating community' pretty much sums up what this charity is all about. I started volunteering there a while back and quickly became aware of the importance social enterprises and charities have in working together. So, for my first blog for Poached Creative, let me take you on a little voyage…

Situated in the heart of Camden, the Pirates have been going since 1966. Starting out with just a few kids messing about in boats along the Regents Canal, it has grown into a local landmark offering everything from kayaking to canal trips, youth clubs to dog yoga.

Living around the corner in Arlington House, a homeless hostel, I was invited by homelessness charity St. Mungo's Broadway to attend a weekly training scheme at the Pirates Castle.

Through the Pirates, I also worked with Access Adventure, a government scheme for helping disabled youngsters into outdoor activities such as rock climbing, cycling, and orienteering. They aided me to get my disability sports trainer and paediatric paramedic certificates through their collaboration with Disability in Camden and the Westway organisation.

Later, Broadway steered me towards the Poached Creative BigIssue Online Journalist training programme, after I did some English tutoring with Somalian residents in Arlington House through One Housing Group’s support wing.

John interviews now>press>play
Photo by Declan Slattery
Through this training I got to meet and interview representatives of numerous charities and social enterprises like now>press>play’ who provide interactive teaching for kids, and Hackney Laces, a young women’s football team. The training stressed their important role in the local community and our duty as journalists to report this.

Meanwhile I had got involved in the Two Boroughs’ theatrical project the Sound of Yellow for the homeless and disadvantaged at the Young Vic, because I had been attending Cardboard Citizens drama sessions at Crisis Education.

I think it is because of this experience with other charities and social enterprises, and the collaboration and networking of these organisations in offering me these opportunities, that I am now writing this blog for Poached Creative. It has been the hard work and dedication of these organisations that has taken me on this adventurous voyage over the last two years.

Volunteering has driven away that awful despondency coupled with a feeling of helplessness that comes from suffering homelessness. The irony is that by being helpful to others has been empowering in helping myself to recover a degree of self worth and as a value to my community.    

On the horizon the future looks bright. I will continue my volunteering with the Pirate Castle, attend a series of workshops with Two Boroughs with the aim of doing a Christmas show, and will be involved with St Mungo’s Broadway Recovery College’s drama and film ‘skool’ courses.

So, ‘Ahoy shipmates!’ climb aboard and get involved in your local charities and social enterprises, you never know what ports of call you might end up making. 

1 comment:

  1. doing well mate, Yes Broadway employment team and Poached are helping lotsa people, volunteering as a press officer for poached I get to read success stories very often, which is very motivational.