Literature for Wellbeing Funding Scheme
Literature Wales has announced its investment in creative writing activities which aim to encourage engagement and inclusion in communities across Wales.
In spring 2018 Literature Wales will support nine projects led by Wales-based writers which have been devised with a target group in mind, including those who have experienced homelessness, are seeking asylum, are survivors of domestic abuse, or are at risk of disengagement, marginalisation or exclusion. This announcement follows a successful call-out for writers and arts practitioners to create and deliver a series of creative writing workshops in the community last August.
Literature Wales believes that literature is good for us and can improve lives, and its Literature for Wellbeing Funding Scheme aims to provide individuals and communities the opportunity to tell their story and write their own futures.
Each project will have an outcome, whether this takes the form of a performance or showcase event, film installation, or a pamphlet of poetry. Many of these projects are delivered in partnership with local groups and organisations.
About the projects
With the numbers of those living in poverty in south Wales reaching staggering heights, homelessness in our cities is on the rise. Frank Thomas, a writer who believes that the voice is a powerful tool whether it’s used to express thoughts and opinions or to affect politics, will lead spoken word poetry workshops with those at risk of social exclusion and those who have experienced homelessness in the Swansea and Newport areas.
Poet and workshop leader Christina Thatcher will lead six creative writing workshops for people in recovery from substance misuse issues in Cardiff. The workshops will link to Footsteps to Recovery’s aim to reintegrate those in recovery back into the workforce and community and focus on learning craft, developing literacy, building confidence and improving analysis and writing skills.
Following on from the success of Literature Wales’ partnership with HM Prison Parc (topping the Arts, Business and the Community category in the Arts & Business 2017 Award), we are delighted to build on our work with the prison communities of Wales through a creative writing project at Carchar y Berwyn, Wrexham. Writer Sian Northey will assist Welsh-speaking prisoners to experiment with their creative voice.
LGBT communities in Aberystwyth and Carmarthen will enjoy creative writing workshops with Helen Sandler and Karen Gemma Brewer. The programme aims to provide an outlet for the voices of marginalised individuals, assist development of creative expression, increase self-confidence and self-worth, and through involvement with the workshops and presentation of the literary work produced, increase engagement with the community at large.
Poet Jaffrin Khan’s workshops for young BAME girls in Cardiff (ages 11 - 18) will provide a safe space to outlet thoughts and emotions, discuss and promote positive citizenship and explore diverse writing styles and voices. Participants will contribute to an anthology of writing at the end of this project.
Writer Gwion Hallam and movement artist, choreographer and integrative arts psychotherapist, Cai Tomos, will deliver a series of workshops at Galeri, Caernarfon with a local dance group for over 60s, Cain. They aim to create a unique dance display and poetry pamphlet, where the poetry will be inspired by body movements and vice-versa.
Women who are survivors or are at risk of domestic abuse in Carmarthen will have the opportunity to express themselves through poetry and song. The workshops will be led by writer Mel Perry and aim to promote wider community inclusion, confidence and self-development.
The connection between sounds and poetry will also be explored in creative writing workshops for women including those from Asylum Seeker and Refugee backgrounds, led by Rosey Brown and Teddy Hunter. Workshops will explore sound, memory and a sense of place, and how these three elements link together. The outcome of the project will be in the form of an audiovisual installation with sound and film.
Last but not least is a poetry residency at the palliative care unit for Hywel Dda Health Board at Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth where poet Mererid Hopwood will meet with staff and the families of patients at the unit and those cared for in the community. From her discussions she will compose a series of poems exploring end of life and mortality. We will publish these poems in a bilingual pamphlet both in print and digitally during the Byw Nawr/Live Now week in May 2018. The poems will be used as a resource for discussing these difficult themes, especially during training staff for health practitioners. This project has received further funding from Welsh Government’s Byw Nawr/Live Now fund.
Chief Executive of Literature Wales, Lleucu Siencyn said: “We are extremely pleased that we’re able to support these writers and artists to create and deliver activities which aim to tackle issues that are not only close to their hears, but are of great importance in their communities. Supporting community-led activities is an integral part of our work, and is one of the most effective ways we can contribute towards the wellbeing of the nation and ensure that individuals across Wales, whatever their backgrounds, abilities or situations, have the opportunity to discover their voices.”
These activities are delivered in partnership with a number of organisations, with a number receiving additional funding. Detailed information about each project is available on the Literature Wales website: www.literaturewales.org/our-projects/lit-for-wellbeing.
For further information, contact Literature Wales: firstname.lastname@example.org / 029 2047 2266.
Literature for Wellbeing Funding Scheme:
Footsteps to Recovery
Creative writing for people in recovery from substance abuse in Cardiff.
Participants: People in Recovery from Substance Misuse Issues
Lead artist: Christina Thatcher
Location: Solas Cymru (Pobl Group), Cardiff & Little Man Coffee Company, Cardiff
Further info: Poet and workshop leader Christina Thatcher will lead six creative writing workshops for people in recovery from substance misuse issues in Cardiff. The workshops will link to Footsteps to Recovery’s aim to reintegrate those in recovery back into the workforce and community and focus on learning craft, developing literacy, building confidence and improving analysis and writing skills, as well as working towards a showcase event at Little Man Coffee Company where participants will be invited to read and display their work for the wider community.
About Christina Thatcher: Christina Thatcher is a part-time teacher and PhD student at Cardiff University where she studies how creative writing can impact the lives of people bereaved by addiction. Christina keeps busy off campus too as the Poetry Editor for The Cardiff Review and as a freelance workshop facilitator and festival coordinator.
Her poetry and short stories have featured in a number of publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, The Interpreter’s House and more.
Her first collection, More than you were, was shortlisted in Bare Fiction’s Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and published by Parthian Books in 2017.
Dancing words – poetry of the body
Poetry and movement workshops with over 60s dance group in Caernarfon, north Wales
Participants: People over 60
Lead artist(s): Gwion Hallam and Cai Tomos
Location: Galeri, Caernarfon
Further info: 'Dancing words – poetry of the body' is a collaboration between poet Gwion Hallam and dancer Cai Tomos. The duo will lead a series of workshops over the course of four days at Galeri, Caernarfon, working with Cain, a dance group for over 60s. They aim to create a unique dance display and poetry pamphlet, where the poetry will be inspired by body movements and vice-versa. The project is in partnership with Galeri, Caernarfon where a showcase event will be held in May.
About Gwion Hallam: Gwion is a Welsh-language poet who has published books for children and adults. A prolific performer in the stomp and talwrn competitions, Gwion has also gained a wealth of experience leading workshops with writers of all ages and backgrounds. He recently won the Crown at the National Eitseddfod for his poem ‘Trwy Ddrych’, which was inspired by his experiences composing poems with dementia sufferers as part of Literature Wales’ Literature for Health and Wellbeing projects.
About Cai Tomos: Cai Tomos is a movement artist, choreographer and qualified integrative arts psychotherapist. Inspired by his time spent in California with the post-modern dance pioneer, Anna Halprin, Cai has explored and developed movement with the over-60s at Galeri Caernarfon since 2011.
Write It Out
Creative writing workshops and performance with LGBT+ writers in Aberystwyth and Carmarthen
Participants: LGBT+ 18+
Lead artist(s): Helen Sandler and Karen Gemma Brewer
Location: Aberystwyth and Carmarthen
Further info: Creative writing workshops and performance with LGBT+ writers in Aberystwyth with Helen Sandler and Carmarthen with Karen Gemma Brewer. These workshops will safely explore the voices of LGBT community, assist development of creative expression and increase engagement with the community at large. A showcase event will link to 'Aberration' LGBT nights in Aberystwyth.
About Karen Gemma Brewer: Karen Gemma Brewer is an award winning poet, performer and story-teller from west Wales where she lives on an isolated farm in the Grannell Valley, between Llanybydder and Aberaeron. Born of coal-mining and farm-working stock, her writing combines emotion and mundanity with a strong sense of the absurd and has been published in magazines and anthologies in the UK, Ireland and USA. Karen Gemma has performed widely at music festivals, theatres, pubs, clubs, colleges, schools, shops and in the street.
Karen says: “I am passionate about words and their creative use and I am acutely conscious of the important role literary arts play in the development, expression and understanding of identity and community. The headline issues that worry transgender and cross-dressing individuals in mid-Wales are isolation, misunderstanding, frustrated inability to express feelings and a view that their stories are being told by others.”
About Helen Sandler: Helen Sandler is a writer and editor based near Machynlleth. She has published two novels of her own, Big Deal and The Touch Typist, and edited anthologies of lesbian short stories for Diva which won Lambda Awards. With friends, she programmes and comperes ‘Aberration’, the LGBT arts nights in Aberystwyth. Helen has run writing projects in Liverpool and London and looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm with a new group in Mid Wales.
Helen says: "As one of the organisers of Aberration in Aberystwyth, I know there are a lot of LGBTQI people in the area who enjoy hearing and telling stories. So I'm delighted that with this grant from Literature Wales we'll be able to run a creative writing project where people can write stories and poems about their own lives – and stories from their wild, queer imaginations!"
Creative Writing Workshops with young BAME girls in Cardiff
Participants: BAME girls 11-18
Lead artist: Jaffrin Khan
Further info: Creative writing workshops and anthology creation with poet and youth worker Jaffrin Khan for young BAME girls in Cardiff. The project will provide a safe space to outlet and discuss thoughts and emotions whilst exploring diverse writing styles and voices.
About Jaffrin Khan: Jaffrin is an English graduate currently working as a project officer with EYST. A poet, artist and founder of an online jewellery boutique, Jaffrin also spends a substantial amount of her time volunteering with charitable organisations as well as leading discussions with girls aged 11-18 about current affairs, religion, identity, body image and mental health as part of her youth work.
Workshops with Homeless people and those at risk of social exclusion in the Swansea and Newport areas
Participants: Homeless people and those at risk of social exclusion (Street Football Swansea (SFS) and Gwalia)
Lead artist: Frank Thomas
Location: Swansea and Newport
Further info: Poet Frank Thomas will deliver a series of Spoken Word poetry workshops with those at risk of social exclusion and those who have experienced homelessness in the Swansea and Newport areas. The project is in co-operation with Street Football Swansea (SFS) and Gwalia. A final showcase event will celebrate the participants’ achievements.
About Frank Thomas: “Long haired, beardy and slightly dishevelled” Frank Thomas is a spoken word artist and performer based in South Wales who doesn’t look like he should be able to “hold the audience hostage with his charismatic ramblings”. He also makes snake anti-venom to pay the bills (in a pharmaceutical lab, not his kitchen).
Words and Sounds: exploring memory and place
Participants: Women, including those from Asylum Seeker & Refugee backgrounds
Lead artist(s): Rosey Brown & Teddy Hunter
Further info: A series of workshops in Cardiff for women, including women from asylum seeker and refugee backgrounds, with poet Rosey Brown and artist Teddy Hunter will explore sound, memory and a sense of place, and how these three elements link together. The outcome of the project will be in the form of an audiovisual installation with sound and film, and the possibility of performances that will be presented by the participants in the Trinity Centre, Cardiff.
About Rosey Brown: Rosey works on arts education projects in Cardiff and internationally. She really enjoys facilitating community workshops, as well as working on her own writing. In 2015/16 she won a Literature Wales bursary and for the last two years has been on the Hay Festival Writers at Work scheme for emerging writers. She also runs feminist zine collective FOREPLAY.
About Teddy Hunter: Teddy is a Cardiff based musician, artist and sound artist. Her work focuses on the relationship between sound, architecture and environment where a combination of sound, film and photography are used throughout her practice to create audio-visual artworks and installations. Teddy has been involved with events organisation and community music projects such as Folli Fest that took place at Castel Coch. Teddy runs her own female music platform Sweet Pea Records.
Quote: "We're really looking forward to working together with women from a variety of backgrounds, exploring sound, language and place together, to create something special and personal."
HM Prison Berwyn Creative Writing Project
Participants: Welsh speaking prisoners at HM Prison Berwyn, Wrexham
Lead artist: Sian Northey
Further info: A series of creative writing workshops with Welsh speaking prisoners at HM Prison Berwyn, Wrexham. The participants will experiment with their creative voice with the support of writer Sian Northey.
About Sian Northey: Author, poet and editor Sian Northey was brought up in Trawsfynydd, and now lives in Penrhyndeudraeth in north-west Wales. Her first poetry collection, Trwy Ddyddiau Gwydr (Through Glass Days, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch), was shortlisted for the 2013 Wales Book of the Year Award. She has also published numerous fiction for children. Her first novel for adults, Yn y Tŷ Hwn (In This House, Gomer), was published in 2011. Rhyd y Gro (Gomer, 2016) is her second novel for adults. Sian, who has recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the School of Welsh at Bangor University, was selected to the Writers at Work programme at the 2016 Hay Festival and recently visited India with Literature Across Frontiers.
Creative writing sessions for women at risk of/survivors of domestic abuse in Carmarthen
Participants: Women at risk of/survivors of domestic abuse
Lead artist: Mel Perry and Maya Waldman
Further information: A series of six creative writing sessions in Carmarthen for women survivors of domestic abuse, with writer Mel Perry, write4word. The focus will be for participants to express themselves through poetry and song in order to promote wider community inclusion, confidence and self-development and deliver practical and documented creative outcomes through performance and publication.
About Mel Perry: Mel is a writer and writing practitioner from Llansteffan. She is a co-Director of write4word in Wales, and co-producer of a young writers project with Kultivera in Sweden. Mel is currently studying for the MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes and is passionate about the role poetry and our own writing can play in personal reflection, healing and development.
Poetry residency at palliative care unit
Participants: Palliative care staff, patients and families, Aberystwyth
Lead artist: Mererid Hopwood
Partners: Gudrun Jones (art therapist), Hywel Dda Health Board
Further info: During this residency, poet Mererid Hopwood will meet with staff and the families of patients at the Palliative Care Unit in Bronglais Hospital, Aberystwyth, as well as those cared for in the community. From her discussions she will compose a series of poems exploring end of life and mortality. We will publish these poems in a bilingual pamphlet both in print and digitally during the Byw Nawr/Live Now week in May 2018. The poems will be used as a resource for discussing these difficult themes, especially during training staff for health practitioners. This project has received further funding from Welsh Government’s Byw Nawr/Live Now fund.
About Mererid Hopwood: Mererid Hopwood teaches at University of Wales Trinity Saint David and enjoys writing. She has won the Chair, Crown and Prose Medal at the National Eisteddfod and has been Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh-language Children's Poet Laureate). Mererid is a prolific and critically acclaimed writer and is very experienced in leading poetry workshops.