Why I'm running for Streetwise

Hazel Gould is a writer and director who has collaborated with Streetwise Opera on Dialogues des Carmelites at the Royal Opera House, and To the Silkwood Tree in Nottingham. On 17 April 2016, she will run her first marathon in her home town of Brighton. Her 40th Birthday is on 8 May 2016.

When I decided to run a marathon, I knew that I would like to raise money for a charity. These are cold days and there seems to be hardship everywhere I look. Images of desperate people, far from their homes, fill my newsfeeds. I know that my kids are sharing desks and playgrounds with children who arrive at school hungry and go to bed cold. People far and wide are lacking the most basic of requirements: food, warmth and shelter. These are undeniable, unmistakable wrongs which must be righted and there are fantastic organisations who are working hard to address these issues directly. I trust that on 17 April some of my fellow runners will be carrying the baton for all sorts of fantastic causes doing great work, and I’ll cheer them on. But here’s why Streetwise is such a good fit for me: food and shelter, whilst vital, are only enough to survive, and I think we all have a right to more than that. I think we all have a right to a life worth living.

I have the immense privilege of taking the roof over my head for granted. The way I define myself is by the things that feed my soul, not just my body. I spend time with friends, go on holiday, go running, walk in the hills, hang out with my family, read books, waste time on the internet. But it is creating art that has nourished me for my entire life – the drama studio kept me safe and curious during my school years, the hours spent watching shows in tiny pub theatres gave me an anchor in my chaotic 20s and my passion, which had become my work, let me retain a tiny bit of my identity as I had small children in my 30s. Being engaged in  the creative process, sharing rehearsal rooms with collaborators of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and levels of experience, not only pays my bills, but allows me to understand who I am, aside from what I am.

This is why the work that Streetwise Opera does, especially now when resources are scarce, is so vital. In rehearsals, Streetwise have a great guideline: we all leave our real lives outside, we step into a new space and become whoever we want to be, no need to wear the circumstances of our lives like badges. It is in this space that we find connection, common ground, our shared humanity. It is here that we are greater than our postcodes, or bank balances or nationalities. This is a space in which our ideas and thoughts and passions are what define us. It is in this space that we, all of us, stop surviving and start living.

So, because I’m in the grips of a proto mid-life crisis, I’m running a marathon three weeks before my 40th birthday, and I want to make this event count. If you were considering buying me a birthday present, please do, by helping me support Streetwise and the fabulous work they do...

You can sponsor Hazel at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/hazelgould40