Meet The Outsiders Team

Nell Leyshon


The Outsiders Project is run by Nell Leyshon, award-winning novelist and playwright, and Deputy Chair of Shakespeare’s Globe. Nell has worked with marginalised voices for 17 years, focusing on developing skills and self-esteem, and the writer’s original and authentic voice. She has worked with recovering addicts, ex-offenders, mental health service users, indigenous peoples in Labrador and Peru. She worked with the Gypsy community for 8 years to help release their own voices.

Jane Cartwright


Jane started attending writing workshops after rehab, and has performed in schools, prisons and mental health settings. She is now an experienced writing workshop leader and has taught different marginalised groups in Boscombe and London. She wrote and performed a monologue as part of London Stories at Battersea Arts Centre, and appeared in See Me Now at the Young Vic, London. She also performed in our shows The Vodka Hunters and Secret Voices.

Gail Cecil


Gail started writing in residential rehab in 2007, then joined Vita Nova’s weekly writing workshops and writing courses at Arvon Foundation. Meanwhile, she returned to education and studied for five years to qualify as a therapist. She is now the manager of one of StreetScene’s three residential rehabs that deal with substance misuse, addiction and chemsex. She is writing a memoir about her experience of being a mother and an alcoholic. She performed in The Vodka Hunters and Secret Voices.

Deena Kashfi Jackman


Deena is a British-Iranian multidisciplinary musician, sonic artist, DJ and general soundnerd. She composes for mixed media including theatre and film. Deena studied classical music growing up and now teaches composing and sound design for media at the Bournemouth Academy of Modern Music.

Listen to Deena’s work on Soundcloud.

Gary Krishna


Gary spent his early life up to age 35 in and out of various prisons, but has completely transformed his life and has spent the last 16 years helping drug and alcohol addicts. He started writing after seeing The Vodka Hunters and joined the creative writing workshops. He had always been attracted by performance and writing, but never had the opportunity to start until he took part in Secret Voices.

Scott Lavene
Title Scott is a musician, performer, writer and workshop leader. His move to Bournemouth was due to serious mental health issues and admittance to rehab after a period of severe depression and addiction. Now in recovery he has returned to his writing and musical career, refocusing his creativity through performance, writing and leading creative writing courses for other people dealing with addictions. His music career has re-established with a residency at Brighton Fringe and being signed to Funnel Music. His music has been played by Steve Lamacq on BBC6 Music, selected as record of the week by Geoff Lloyd, Absolute Radio, and reviewed by The Times. Visit Scott’s website here.
Ryan McCormack
Title Ryan is from a working class Irish Catholic background. He started to write in prison, and joined writing workshops in early recovery. He stopped for a few years when he had children, but started again in 2018. He is currently working on a full-length one man show, Slap, which is about the legacy of abuse and the overwhelming power of forgiveness. The show will help others hold their darkness up to the light and celebrate who they are.
Shelley Mitchell
Title Shelley has always written for herself and wrote songs in a band as a teenager. After her years of chaos she entered rehab and started going to writing workshops. She was in Secret Voices, then performed her story at Kneehigh Theatre, and in prisons. She runs writing workshops with homeless people, and has recently completed her Access Course. She is a passionate reader and loves music and cinema.
Gary Pierre
Title Gary was a scaffolder in London and started attending drama classes at City Lit and then Morley College. He gained a scholarship to NW5 Drama School, but he dropped out as his life got out of control. Gary attended creative writing workshops at Vita Nova, wrote a play for Blah-di-Blah Literature Festival, and performed at How The Lights Gets In Festival. He performed inThe Vodka Hunters and Secret Voices.
Oscar Ridding
Title Oscar wrote poetry and songs all through his childhood and adolescence. He started filling notebooks again when he entered rehab, then joined our writing workshops. Writing has always been his means of expression, finding in it comfort and a sense of pride. He is currently working on his poetry, and has projects in music and in modelling. Secret Voices was his first experience of performing.
Geoff Stevens


Geoff worked as a sound technician and stage manager in London through the 80s and early 90s. He was a founder member of Vita Nova in 1999 and managed Bournemouth youth services live performance project (Baseline) for 3 years. In 2018 Geoff started his company Headlighting, who do production lighting and specialise in site specific small to medium size productions. Geoff is now tech for The Outsiders Project and helps manage the BAD building.