HEART-wrenching tales of addiction and despair were performed at the Royal Opera House by Bournemouth poets.

They took part in a special production for the London 2012 festival that was aimed at giving homeless and ex-homeless people a voice for the Olympics .

“I am still blown away – it was a very powerful experience,” said Paul Hawkins, 48, of Springbourne, who read his work Meet At The High Street Clock.

Jane Cartwright read her prose piece Doorways – looking back at her life and problems with drink, domestic violence and taking crack cocaine and heroin. Lines included: “At opening time the regulars would huddle together hoping for an early pint. I never told them that it was me who was waiting for them.”

The 45-year-old from Springbourne said: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to perform there but to be honest I was quite calm.”

All the performers have been helped by Vita Nova, the Springbourne-based charity that uses the performing arts to help people recover from addictions.

The performers, who included Claire Connolly, said their work was a form of therapy and it also gave them a feeling of togetherness.

“The sense of friendship is incredible,” said Paul.

The event was called ‘With One Voice’ and involved 300 people performing in front of a paying audience.

Recovering alcoholic and music graduate Andrew McCutchion, 39, from Boscombe , wrote a humorous piece about learning to play the piano.

He said: “I was impressed because the work stood on its own terms – there wasn’t that kind of school play feeling to it.

“The quality was outstanding.”

He added with a smile: “While it wasn’t a traditional route to the Royal Opera House , I got there in end.”

Vita Nova is also starting up a community choir.

For more information, email music@vitanova.co.uk

Meet at the High Street Clock...

I follow your gaze towards the cash point, the giver of the folding.

Stryofoam coffee cups, limp chat; Jacketless sales reps.

Market day, a dozen mannequins hooked to a cross pole, hung up on the market stall gallows; A step ladder to the next level.’

Extract, by Paul Hawkins