A group of young service users from homelessness charity Crisis organised an 'open-mike' music event called Crisis Undercover to raise awareness of the training opportunities on offer at the organisation's Skylight Cafe in east London.
The event, which was funded by volunteering charity v, served a dual purpose because the organisers used the experience to count towards an Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network certificate in community volunteering. "Many people don't realise that our Skylight Cafe offers three-month training courses to homeless people," says Helen Bryant, youth volunteer co-ordinator. "We then help trainees find work. The event, which took place at the cafe, was to get as many people as possible along and raise awareness of the services on offer."
The show included performances by buskers and five groups of young homeless people. "The young people wanted something a bit more structured than a traditional open-mike event," says Bryant. The response from those who attended has been so positive that she believes it is only a matter of time before the charity organises another such event. "We have had lots of emails asking us to do more," she says. "But the most rewarding thing is seeing the reaction of the young people who organised it. They are used to things going wrong in their lives, so they were ecstatic that it exceeded all their expectations."