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Imogen presented at Arts, Health & Wellbeing Symposium

Creativity Works aims to support participants through a process of initial engagement (usually as a participant in a creative workshop), onto a journey of creative exploration and further involvement (usually as a member of a creative peer group), where we nurture participants’ creative skill set and support their aspirations in order for them to feel empowered and enabled to grow as creative individuals. A crucial part of this process is the evolution of the creative peer group. Imogen Mascall, a founding member of Writing Space, presented at Edge Hill University’s Arts, Health and Wellbeing Symposium – Breaking Into the Temples of Culture: Exploring Arts, Health and Wellbeing Initiatives in the Community – on 27th November 2015 at Tate Liverpool. Alongside Creativity Works’ staff, Immy spoke about the evolution of Writing Space, discussing its challenges, achievements and future aspirations, in order to provoke conversations about best practice in growing creative peer groups. Here is what she said:

Immy’s Speech for Liverpool Conference

Thank you to everyone who has come here today to support each other and for seeing the value in promoting positive mental health through creativity. My name is Immy and I am a member of Writing Space. And I believe you should not judge a book by its cover or a person by a label because labels come with preconceptions. Everyone’s an individual with their own creative style and this is what we value about each other in Writing Space. When a puzzle falls apart you can’t always put it back together in the same way but you can make it into something new. Like an inspiration, writing words down can take you to a new place with your creativity as an individual and as a group.

Writing Space is a peer-led writing group for experience of writing who would like to meet others to share ideas and mutual support in the writing process. Some sessions are facilitated by a writer, others are for the group to continue developing their ideas. We help each other through each session through positivity. We listen and value each other and help each other to develop our work in different ways. We have regular meetings so we can discuss what we want to do in the future. What may have worked well and what we might want to do differently. It’s reassuring to go to the same room every week and refreshing to know that we’ll get new ideas from each other, as a group or as an individual. Knowing that we’ve got the same space and time reserved for us each week is an important part of meeting as a group and knowing that you can speak or stay silent as you wish. Writing is a form of therapy. We also usually have a good laugh. It’s up to you what you want to share. We don’t put pressure on each other but we do encourage each other and listen to each other’s advice. We have a very good volunteer who supports us in session and sends regular email reminders to everyone about what’s happening each week. It’s been very important to have continuity between past and present volunteers and we invite past volunteers and facilitators to special events that we have as a group. There’s a strong friendship bond within the group. We check in on each other each session and ask after members who we haven’t seen for a while.

In Writing Space we write as individuals and as a group. For example, we often do communal writing exercises where we write down three or four words each and then share these words as a group. Then we each write a short piece using these words and bring these individual writings together into a poem or short piece of prose. This is how we wrote our prologue to the anthology we put together as a group earlier this year. This anthology is available for sale for a small donation of £2.50 to help support the running costs of our group. We have limited stock with us here today but we can always order more!

This is the prologue to the anthology that together we wrote:

 

PROLOGUE

And together we wrote…

I hurried down to crown my seat at my place at the writing space table, feeling stable in the arms and charms of words, whilst twiddling my thumbs in the moments between scribbling down thoughts that I fought to include, with an enjoyment we each exude, at our place at the writing space table.

And together we wrote…

Inky the rabbit parachuted himself through the sky and thought, “This is the life. This is the highest form of expression, I feel like a spinning top. I hope I land in a lettuce patch, that would be a complementary event to a wonderful day.” He landed and as quick as a jack-in-a-box he bounced over to the biggest lettuce he had ever seen.

And together we wrote…

In the light of the land, with inspirational scenery, the parachute carried the rabbit around in the sky from which he landed upon the lettuce with an inky splurge and the expressive spinning top out-popped the complimentary jack-in-a-box.

And together we wrote…

The inky black rabbit chewed and swallowed his last lettuce leaf, adjusted the straps of his parachute and jumped out of the aeroplane. He sprung through the air like a spinning-top to the ground and was absorbed into the pages of the book.

 

Writing this anthology really helped us explore going further and pushed us to another level. Coming together as a group for the launch of this anthology was extremely special. Several members read their work during the evening. We also spent time practising so that we had more confidence in ourselves. This anthology is a reflection on how important this group is to each member and shows how our confidence has grown during the time of the group being together. Our writing can make you feel more whole because you feel more valued as a group member. It can give you a time to focus for a short time or a longer time according to people’s wants and needs. We hire tutors to come in to inspire us and give us ideas for future work. But we are also a very independent group. We have gone from strength to strength over the years. Each new member has brought a new perspective which has strengthened us all over time. If you have any ideas on how to promote our values as a group please let us know or do what you can to promote creativity as an important aspect in your lives. As a member of this group I know how important it is for others to support this creative activity.

 

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