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Post People: Artist helps lone parents of Dagenham find their voice

PUBLISHED: 10:56 30 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:11 30 January 2017

Christina Ford running her community art class at The White House in Dagenham Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Christina Ford running her community art class at The White House in Dagenham Picture: Ellie Hoskins

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Christina Ford, 33, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates how she’s been using art to help lone parents since becoming artist in residence at The White House

Christina Ford hopes to help Dagenham families come together using art Picture: Ellie HoskinsChristina Ford hopes to help Dagenham families come together using art Picture: Ellie Hoskins

“Since graduating from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I’ve been used to running community projects and directing theatre.

“But when I was chosen as artist in residence at The White House in Green Lane, Dagenham, it was a bit of a shock and very surreal. I couldn’t believe that my fulltime job would be working on a project I’m so passionate about – it’s fantastic.

“My project centres around lone parents and their families and since the beginning of this year I’ve been hosting drop-in sessions during the day and on evenings that give parents and their children the chance to engage with art.

“As a lone parent that’s lived in the borough for 33 years, I think that a lot of the regeneration and the changes that are going on are leaving lone parents behind – when the Goresbrook Leisure Centre in Dagenham was knocked down, the creche it ran went with it.

“The project I’m building up to at The White House is a piece of theatre called All Aboard, which will show lone parents coming together and challenging the stereotypes we face.

“Often the media portrays single mums as young parents on benefits despite the fact that less than two per cent are aged between 16 and 19 and the fact that 67 per cent of lone parents work.

“I’m also arranging family nights and film nights so The White House becomes known as a safe space and people know it’s family-oriented.

“Being able to be involved in art and do what I love while serving a specific group within the community is really important to me because it means I can use theatre to give a voice to the voiceless.

“By that I don’t mean that lone parents like me don’t have voices, it’s just that unfortunately their voices aren’t listened to.

“This is about creating a world where everything slows down for families so they can spend time together if only for an hour.”

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