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A Profile of Camilla, our Volunteer Support Worker

Profile of:

Dr Camilla Nelson

Job title:

Volunteer Support Worker

When did you start working for Creativity Works?

17th July 2013

What is your professional background?

In the past I have worked for A P Watt, Britain’s oldest Literary Agency, Tatler, Puffin Publishing and The Poetry Society. More recently I have been a visiting lecturer at La Sorbonne Nouvelle, Dartington College of Arts and Falmouth University. I was awarded my PhD in ‘Reading and Writing with a Tree: Practising Nature Writing as Enquiry’ in 2013 and have been practising (in earnest!) as a poet and text artist since 2009. I regularly have work published in poetry magazines and anthologies, exhibit text work, and present my ongoing creative research at national and international conferences. In my other (non-Creativity works) life I am about to take up a part-time position as Associate Poetry Tutor at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

What happens in a day in the life of Camilla at Creativity Works?

Far too much, or.. as much as possible! On the days I don’t have meetings first thing, I come into the office in Radstock, check my emails and respond to them asap, catch up with Philippa about where all the groups are at and what needs doing to support any one of them, and action this before gathering my things together to speed off to Bath to support a group for the afternoon (mostly Writing Space at the moment). Then it’s back to the office to write up and send notes from the group session to group members and follow up on any other correspondence. On the days there are meetings to squeeze in as well things get very busy indeed..!

 What do you enjoy most about working here?

I most enjoy the surprises the group members throw up at you – both good and bad. Working creatively with groups as a participant and/or facilitator is one thing but working as a support worker and seeing the groups pull together to come up with their own creative solutions is quite another kind of magic. Working with groups in this capacity is an endless adventure: my own experience of the world expands with every group interaction.

The level of exchange and collaborative working between organisations, as with Fresh Art @ Hillview, is also incredibly rewarding. The sense that Creativity Works is part of a great and growing net of supportive organisations that are working to improve the creative conditions of vulnerable adults in B&NES, and being a small but necessary part in that, is overwhelming.

What do you find most challenging?

I find the level of multi-tasking that is necessary, the not-knowing-when-you-are-going-to-being-able-to-have-lunch-because-you-are-always-on-the-go, and the volume of work to be packed into a very small amount of hours the most challenging part of this job.

What has been most surprising during your time so far at Creativity Works?

The level of co-operation, co-operative spirit and goodwill between organisations in B&NES. In the academic and corporate worlds you get used to a high level of dog-eat-dog competition that works against any impetus to forge genuine co-operative partnerships between organisations. The sense of everyone working together for a common good is very strongly felt in this sector and a real credit to all the organisations who work to maintain such a positive collaborative work ethic.

What has been your biggest professional or personal achievement to date?

Personally, and professionally (as a creative researcher), the successful completion and award of my PhD in Performance Writing within the three-year funding time frame has certainly been my greatest achievement to date. Professionally, at Creativity Works, I think taking over the administration support of last year’s World Mental Health festival within two months of starting with both my managers away on holiday and effectively supporting such a successful festival was a pretty amazing feat. I hope the opening of the Fresh Art @ Hillview exhibition on the 31st May and the return of the work to Hillview afterwards will be a similarly great and lasting success that will be felt by all those involved in the project and the residents of Hillview for many years to come.


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