The impact of homelessness creative arts

Blog post written by Creative Arts Coordinator, Rosie Seagar

07 Sep 2022

Diversionary activities, such as art workshops, are often tools for responding to and recovering from trauma.

As a psychologically informed organisation, we want to ensure that we have a trauma informed approaches to help people through recovery and preparing for their future.

Our creative arts programme does just this.

We’ve developed outlets for creativity, as a way to help end repeat cycles of homelessness, addiction and mental health crisis.

We are approaching phrase three of our In The Margins project. We want to reflect on the project so far and look at the incredible creations that our service users have made.

In The Margins: Phase one – Visual arts

In 2021, phase one of our Paul Hamlyn Foundation funded Explore and Test project (In The Margins) explored the impact of visual arts with The Wallich service users in Aberystwyth, Swansea and Maesteg.

Whilst being supported by a local creative practitioner, participants got stuck into:

In The Margins: Phase two – Creative writing

Phase two kicked off in March 2022 with a 12-week programme of creative writing, running simultaneously in Cardiff, Llanelli and online in North Wales.

South Wales

Playwright Owen Thomas worked with our Cardiff group and was inspired by the unshakable positivity that participants brought to the sessions.

Owen supported us to write the ‘Lightbulb Monologues’, a series of five individual monologues telling stories of moments in our lives when we realised we wanted to change them for the better.

Owen also ran bespoke sessions with clients from our Shoreline project, who shared all sorts of stories to inspire Owen’s monologue based on ‘Life at Number 8.

“To be able to write a piece of work which tells of my starting point in recovery means everything to me. It will always be a piece I turn to as a reminder when I hit dark times.”                                                                                                       

     – Gareth, Cardiff group

“Owen gave me the belief that what I write is normal and the understanding that it is rational, brutal but also funny. I have now gained the confidence to share my stories. This has been one of the most beautiful, uplifting and empowering groups I have ever taken part in.”

– Martine, Cardiff group

West Wales

In Llanelli,  Emily Laurens worked with Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Project to run

12 weeks of creative writing at their beautiful allotment site.

Emily led the group through,

All woven together with strong sense of place inspired by the allotment and our connection to the growth and change we saw there between March and June.

Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Project is coordinated by Stephanie Latham, whose dedication, support and unwavering positive energy was instrumental in the success of this project.

“I have discovered my inner poet and watched others find their own. We have all uncovered a love of writing to take and call our own.”

 – Steph, Senior Support Worker, Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Project

“How life has changed in almost three months, all thanks to joining this group. I feel more confident now to meet new people, and I always look forward to joining in.”

Gaynor, Llanelli group

North Wales

In North Wales, Lis Parsons ran 11 creative writing sessions via Zoom plus one face-to-face day session in Rhyl.

One service user from North Wales engaged in this project, committing wholeheartedly and attending every session.

We embarked on a script writing adventure that culminated in a 45-minute radio play: a time-travelling sci-fi comedy exploring gender roles and societal revolution which we are all incredibly proud of.

“It makes me feel full of energy and upbeat, I want to have conversations with people where I used to keep to myself. Everyone says I’m a totally different girl!”

– Kate, North Wales group

“I have noticed a huge change in Kate with herself confidence and self-esteem. She is now looking to continue with her writing, working with the rest of her family to put together some memoirs for her Mum.”

Jake, Senior Support Worker

The opportunity to share

On Tuesday 28 June, all three groups came together in Llanelli for a combined sharing event.

The Carmarthenshire Wellbeing Group worked incredibly hard to prepare the allotment site for the event, which unfortunately had to be moved to an indoor venue at the last minute thanks to torrential rain.

Our spirits weren’t dampened though, and we welcomed 20 people to the sharing table.

We each read our favourite pieces of writing from the last 12-weeks including

We were also treated to two songs written during Derwen Newydd art sessions thanks to phase one creative practitioner Bill Taylor-Beales.

Plans are underway to capture this inspiring body of works through video recordings, a printable and shareable collection of poems and production of ‘A Real Man In sector 9’.

What’s next?

After a short time to catch our breath, we’re on to the third and final phase of In The Margins, with recruitment in process for three creative media practitioners.

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