Outside Edge Theatre Company (OETC) is the UK’s only theatre company and participatory arts charity helping people affected by addiction. For the past 20 years they have been funded by local authority public health departments in Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea to provide free, abstinence-based drama activities in the local community to support people’s recovery maintenance.
Their peer-led, asset-based exercises are rooted in the Five Ways To Wellbeing and help participants identify their existing strengths to improve self-confidence, reduce loneliness and promote health and wellbeing. This three-pronged approach supports people to learn new skills, develop Recovery Capital and reduce harmful behaviour.
Last year, OETC delivered 228 drama workshops for 278 people, resulting in 1,120 individual attendances. 89% of participants attended more than once and 20% accessed multiple groups. They produced 7 productions with service users for 568 audience members.
OETC is linked in with West London’s drug and alcohol treatment providers and mental health services, such as Turning Point and Mind. They also partner with local arts organisations, such as the Bush Theatre, LAMDA, Lyric Hammersmith and H&F Arts Fest, to offer free theatre tickets and drama activities for residents in West London’s recovery community.
Photo credit: Ali Wright
It's a pity OETC seem to be so unique – clearly the service they provide would benefit more people if there were more projects like it."
OETC work successfully in an area that’s underfunded and often shunned. Often addicts do not have the family support group or the outlet to find their self-esteem again - these guys are providing that."
Full marks in every category for this extraordinary company that doesn’t just improve lives but saves them. Far-reaching and ambitious in its remit, it has transformed the lives of people living with addiction and the subsequent poor mental health beyond measure. I wish every town, city, community in the country could offer what they do."
There is such an authenticity to the work Outside Edge Theatre Company undertake – starting from their roots and culminating in the comments by participants. The model of peer mentors in particular appears to be a key to their success. Plus, raising a national conversation about issues around substance misuse through a script competition is a great next step and one which I know I’ll be following with interest."
This project fills me with joy and hope. Such a great force for good in people’s lives – reliable, challenging, inspiring, educating, and clearly in many cases, life-saving. The highest praise for Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea for their support of this transformative company. Some of us, as actors, are lucky enough to know how being part of something bigger than yourself can change your world. We never want this feeling to be unique to actors. Outside Edge brings to those lowered and challenged by substance abuse the togetherness of rehearsal, the robust self-testing of creativity and the simple joy of performance; together they make a powerful, sustainable, important project. These people save lives. We should support them."
It’s the individual stories from Outside Edge that stick in the mind. Proof if we needed it that creativity within a community can bring real change. This is a remarkable project that inspires hope and self-belief in those trying to escape years of substance abuse."
This is an exceptionally strong submission, which fully demonstrates: the need for this work; an established local and regional set of partnerships; an agile and innovative approach; and good evidence of impact in supporting people affected by addiction and substance misuse."
Wonderful innovation! The need for the work you’re doing is obvious and is seemingly having a massive impact for many. I look forward to following your work in the future!"