Bright Future in Military for Young Actor who was made Homeless

A young man from Gwynedd who is looking forward to a bright future in the military after being made homeless two years ago had one of the starring roles in a hard-hitting play organised by the Caernarfon based charity, GISDA,

The play, which was staged at Coleg Harlech’s theatre, tackled hard hitting subjects such as self harm, bullying, and housing issues for young people, something which Anthony, who now shares a house in Dolgellau, has his own very personal experience of.

Anthony Williams, 22, is about to start his training with the Welsh Guards later this month.

His dream military career is a far cry from his situation two years ago when he found himself living in a tent for a fortnight while he tried to find himself a place to live.

He said: “It is difficult to actually put my finger on how I ended up homeless. It was a certain set of circumstances where things weren’t right and I wasn’t working and I just decided to leave home.

“Suddenly I found myself with nowhere to live and I approached the authorities about a home but there was nothing available and so I set up a tent because I literally had nowhere else to sleep. It wasn’t very pleasant at the time because I just didn’t know what I was going to do and I wasn’t in a good place in my life.”

In his role in the Coleg Harlech theatre performance, he played Kyle, the manipulative older brother of the play’s main character Jessie who makes life difficult for his sister who is battling a series of personal problems.

Taking the lead role of Jessie in the GISDA performance was Seren Cynfal, 17, of Llan Ffestiniog, who has formed her own links with Coleg Harlech by signing up for a special scheme called the Intermediate Labour Market (ILM). The project, being run in conjunction with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, is designed to help those who are struggling to find work gain some valuable new skills.

Seren said: “Jessie is quite a challenging part to play because she has a lot of things on her mind and her life is very mixed up because she is facing a lot of issues.

“But I have enjoyed playing her because I love performing whether it is acting or singing and the part definitely gives me a lot to think about!

“The good thing about being at Coleg Harlech is that I have had a chance to use some of their facilities – like the recording studio - so I am getting a really well rounded look at performing arts from all different sides, both being on the stage and being behind it too.”

Reflecting on their performance, Anthony said: “I think the play is important because it helps highlight some of the difficult issues which young people can face in their lives.

“I have found working on plays like this beneficial because not only do they increase my own acting skills and self confidence but also help us all to work through these difficult issues and share them with other people, including those in the audience.

“It makes you feel like you are doing something about these problems – problems which might be affecting you or other young people watching the play.”

Anthony first heard about GISDA after stumbling across a leaflet about the charity during the time he was homeless.

He said: “I was on the verge of travelling to London to try my luck there because I thought I might have had a better chance of getting a job in a big city when I happened to pick up a leaflet about GISDA.”

GISDA supports around 100 young people each year aged between 16 and 25 with housing, education, finding work and learning new skills both for the workplace and to live independent lives.

The charity found a place for Anthony in a hostel in Blaenau Ffestiniog and later helped him find his current home in a shared house in Dolgellau.

Anthony has made the most of all the charity has to offer which has included diverse opportunities such as improving his cookery skills to taking part in a drama and art skills workshop in Portugal.

He believes the experiences he has had with the charity helped him prepare for and get into the army, a job he has wanted to do since being a boy.

The production which has been funded with help from a joint initiative by the Welsh Government and Arts Council for Wales via a project known as Reach the Heights.
Reach The Heights is aimed at reducing the number of young people in Wales who are not in education, employment or training (referred to as NEET) or are at risk of being so. The project has helped more than 5,000 young people to date.

Trefor Fôn Owen, principal of Coleg Harlech, said the GISDA performance had been very well received.

He said: “We are proud to support organisations like GISDA who offer so much to young people in the area.

“Coleg Harlech holds some very similar principles. The college is very much a second chance for education. We seek to help people who have travelled down traditional routes and not been able to fulfil their full potential and learning for whatever reason.

“Like GISDA, we seek to give people a helping hand to change their lives for the better and make the most of their talents and abilities.

“We have our own performing arts courses here and so it seems logical to share the facilities we have with other like minded organisations in the area.”