Emma Ormerod

Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director Emma:

the driving force behind Underground Lights.

In 2010 I was on a train returning from a job interview in London. I had just finished my PhD in education and criminal justice at Roehampton University and my plan was to become a researcher. But on that train journey I suddenly had a very strong feeling that I should be doing drama with people who had never had the opportunity to do anything like that before. And so, the journey towards what would eventually become Underground Lights began!


I started volunteering with the drama group at Crisis in Birmingham and then became a sessional tutor for Crisis in Coventry. There I met some wonderful people who would become the founding members of Underground Lights.

We knew from our own past experiences just how important doing drama and taking part in theatre had been in our own lives. So, after a performance of #SilenceIsSafety in April 2017 at EGO in Coventry, it felt like the right time to start actively setting up an independent theatre company, led by people with lived experience of homelessness and/or mental/emotional distress. Several years later and here we are; a registered charity, a Belgrade Theatre Springboard Company and a growing company of incredibly talented, creative people!

Outside of Underground Lights, I also work as a freelance Associate for the National Survivor User Network (NSUN), most recently working on grant programmes (Covid-19 fund and Side by Side fund) to distribute money to small, grassroots organisations across the country.


When I’m not working I can be found drumming, talking to cats and trying to bake gluten free cakes.