Profile: Sam H.

A Katie Dwyer J March 12, 2013
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“My motivation is to help people.  I was in prison for 26 years, and no one helped me.”

Sam is one of the main coordinators for Helping Hands.  He first participated in ESC programs in the Maze prison in 2003, when Tom Magill led a drama group for prisoners.  He took part in the production of Mickey B, and has been involved in multiple programs and film projects through ESC since then.

Sam was released from prison in 2009, and since then has been a full time volunteer with Helping Hands, where he coordinates programs and works to provide a welcoming presence for anyone who walks in the door and needs help.  “Lots of people come to us when they won’t go to government agencies, because we have walked that path when others haven’t.  They know they can come to us, and they can tell us anything and we’ll understand.”

Sam’s major motivation in working with Helping Hands is the satisfaction that he feels in seeing even one person turn their life around.  Sam has helped several people to find housing and supportive social workers, and has worked with young people to help re-direct them away from anti-social behavior.

Sam says, “It gives you pride in what you do.  You spend so many years having people tell you you’re worthless, and now we can do this and prove them wrong.  Because now I’m here to help people, to use my life experience to help people.  I’m qualified to give advice because I’ve been there.”

In addition to running programs through Helping Hands, Sam is also a participant in projects.  His current favorite is the Reader’s Organization, and he hopes to someday become qualified to lead these groups in reading discussions and healthy debate, stretching the mind and encouraging an understanding of how other people experience the world.

Second Chance for Change Screening, Lunch, and Discussion on Tuesday, March 12th

A Katie Dwyer J March 7, 2013
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Please join us for this exciting event on Tuesday, March 12th from 12.30-1.30 at the Skainos Center!

skainos screening image

We will be screening the Second Chance for Change films, made in partnership with community and forensic mental health patients at Holywell Hospital.  This event will include discussion and a question-and answer session with ESC Artistic Director Tom Magill, ESC CEO Kirsten Kearney, and mental health practitioner Jane Reynolds.  Food will be provided by the Silver Spoon Society (

When: Tuesday March 12th from 12.30-1.30 pm

Where: The Skainos building on 239 Lower Newtownards Road

RSVP: Monday 4th March to or phone 02890243338 to reserve your place. The event is free of charge but we need an idea of numbers for lunch.

ESC and the Community Forensic Mental Health Team from the Northern Trust worked
with a group of men with a history of serious mental health problems and offending behaviour at Holywell Hospital in Antrim. ESC gave the group the chance to look honestly at their own lives and experiences and to tell the stories they wanted to tell in the way they wanted to tell them. The films that resulted and the accompanying documentary are being used in film screenings to raise awareness of mental health issues and the recovery that is possible through creative interventions.

We hope to see you there!

Announcing the new ESC Blog!

A Katie Dwyer J
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In support of our efforts to keep our broad community updated on the projects, networks, and programs here at the ESC, we are launching an updated blog.  We’ll continue with news updates, but will be expanding to post blogs focused on some of the day-to-day stories that make this organization what it is.  We’re going to be featuring stories from behind the scenes, as well as feedback from participants, audience members, staff, and members of outside organizations reacting to our work.  We hope this will be a place to archive old projects, celebrate partnerships, and to allow a window into the impact we strive for in our community.

The blog will involve these main topics:

  • Profiles: who is involved with the Educational Shakespeare Company, how they got there, and what it means to them.
  • Impact: telling the stories of the clients/participants involved with ESC projects, and hearing what these experiences have meant to them.
  • Behind the scenes: a lot goes into a new screenplay or the development of a program.  This section will involve snippets of these processes.
  • Making connections: we’ve worked with so many organizations doing good work, so this is a place where we can celebrate their methods and build community
  • Reactions: This is where we’re especially excited to hear from the members of our audiences and community: the people who witness ESC’s work and have something to say.
  • What’s up: Where we’ll continue to post news updates and alert you to events.  Stay tuned!

Please use the “comments” section at the bottom of each blog if you have something to say!  If you are interested in writing a blog please feel free to contact our blog intern, Katie D.  You can email  She’d be happy to help with editing or ideas, and we would love to include your voice.  We’re especially looking for Reactions blogs—so if you’ve seen something at the ESC that’s moved you or made an impact, please let us know!

As a final thought, please do let us know if something on the site isn’t working well.  We’re hoping to have new posts here every week, and to create a dynamic space.  So let us know if we’re doing our job!