Friday, 4 June 2010

Let me speak! Bridging words: bridging worlds

Creative writing tutor Becky Cherriman with group members Irene Cliff and Chris Woodhead

Two very different creative writing groups have been working together to challenge their understanding and perceptions of the world they live in, listen to each others’ aspirations and achievements, and share their hopes and fears.

Members of writing groups at the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre, a centre for people with physical disabilities, and an elderly group from Headingley Community Centre, had for some time been keen to find ways of developing their thinking and writing skills further. The Workers Education Association (WEA) tutor that works with both groups decided to bring them together to work on the ‘Let me speak!’ project.

The project started with a joint visit to the Thackray Museum for inspiration and was closely followed by a joint workshop, where members of the groups came together to share their thoughts and ideas. The groups then went away to work on their pieces and were brought back together to perform their finished, written pieces at an event today at Leeds Civic Hall. An anthology of the most accomplished pieces, which include prose, poetry and life changing experiences as well as short stories was handed out at the event.

Stuart Simmons, manager of the Osmondthorpe Resource Centre said:
“It has been an absolute joy to see this group of people come together to share their thoughts and experiences.

“We can achieve a great deal in our lives individually, but we can achieve much, much more by collaborating with others. This project is a shining example of that and we are very proud to have taken part in it.”

Julie Bell, a member of the creative writing group at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre said:
"I decided to get involved in the writing group because everyone said how quiet I always was and I found it difficult to talk to people. I thought that it might help me to find the right words to say.

"My piece is called Bill's Wish and I got the idea for writing it when I saw a picture of some sunflowers. I started thinking about how lovely and cheerful they were, and the words just came tumbling out! Becky, our tutor, helped me with my spelling.

"I really enjoyed being part of the writing group and felt very happy that I got to perform my piece at the Civic Hall. I've never done anything like that before. I'm part of the drama group at Osmondthorpe and its inspired me to write a story for them to perform."

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive board member with responsibility for adult social care said:
“This project has clearly been a fantastic experience for all those taking part, improving their confidence and giving them new ways of expressing themselves.

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up and perform your own work in public and everyone who took part in the event today did a fantastic job, with some truly heartfelt performances. They should all feel very proud of what they have achieved and I hope that they will continue to use creative writing in the future.“

The event promotes three aspects of the work that Osmondthorpe Resource Centre is trying to achieve; project working, using community resources and social integration.

Additional info
Bill’s Wish by Julie Bell
Bill is 89 years old. He wishes he could see his parents Elizabeth and George again. They were very special to him.

He’s heard about a man called Tom who grows sunflowers. Sunflowers remind him of his mum because she had a bouquet of them when she got married. So he buys a sunflower plant from Tom and keeps it in a domed glass jar like his mum did.

He has to wait for it to grow but, because he’s poorly, he is worried that he might not have long to live.

That night, just before Bill goes to bed, a bright light comes through the window. Its an angel. She sprinkles dust over the sunflower. There is a magical aroma and he goes back to the day he was fourteen when his mum told him about the bouquet in the jar in their living room.

He is really happy to see his mum and dad again.

The Let me speak! event took place on Thursday, 3 June, 12 noon to 1pm at Leeds Civic Hall.

Osmondthorpe Resource Centre has been helping to rehabilitate people after life-changing accidents or illness for 21 years, by providing a range of opportunities including education, work skills training, day-to-day independent living skills and emotional support as well as an award winning Woodtech project, creating employment opportunities.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578

Celebratory civic reception for Irish ambassador

Irish charm will be flowing in Leeds as the new Lord Mayor welcomes the Irish Ambassador to Leeds tomorrow.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds is supporting Leeds Irish Health and Homes during his term in office and is hosting a reception for the ambassador, Bobby Mc Donagh, and the Irish community tomorrow.

The ambassador will be visiting people who benefit from the work of this charity so he can see first hand the important services they provide to the Irish community.

Leeds Irish Health and Homes is a charity providing supported housing and outreach services not only to the Irish community, but to the wider Leeds community too.

This year also sees the Irish centre in Leeds celebrating its 40 anniversary.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, councillor Jim McKenna said:

“I am delighted to welcome the Irish ambassador to Leeds and to the Civic Hall.

“I am also delighted that he can visit Leeds during my term of office and in this special year of celebrations. I look forward to helping celebrate with him and the Irish community.”

The Lord Mayor is also supporting Relate Leeds during his term.

Notes to editors:

Leeds Irish Health and Homes provide a range of services to help people regain and retain their independence whether through providing practical support through housing and advice or activities such as luncheon clubs to help older people combat isolation. They also provide much needed support to people who are vulnerable to homelessness, mental health or alcohol problems. Working in partnership with many different voluntary and local authority agencies they help people get the right kind of support when they need it most.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450