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Community Writing project in Plymouth

9th September 2022

In spring and summer this year we took our Literature Works Community Writing project to Plymouth. Here, we partnered with Take A Part to co-create creative writing experiences with four very different groups. Based in Plymouth, the Take A Part team are expert in using creativity to enable communities to set their own agendas, increase agency and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Photo: Simon James and Crazy Glue participants – credit Gem Smith for Take A Part
Simon James and Crazy Glue participants – credit Gem Smith for Take A Part.

We recruited four writer practitioners to deliver a series of creative writing workshops co-designed around the interests of the group they were working with and facilitated by an experienced Take A Part producer. Author and illustrator Simon James worked with TAP producer Gem Smith and provided workshops on how to make a picture book for the family-based art group Crazy Glue at Prince Rock Primary School.  Here is a comment from one of the family of participants:

“It was awesome. Me and Curtis are sad to see it end.  Simon is an inspiring man and we loved all sessions, it was an amazing three sessions, we fully enjoyed all of them.”

Letterpress artist, graphic designer and typographer Alan Qualtrough worked with TAP producer Lucy Elmes and the young skaters of the PRIME Design Group of young people from the PRIME Youth Forum based at PRIME Skatepark in Coxside.

 “The first creative writing workshop was to assist them in describing the creative processes they had used during earlier screen printing and banner-making sessions. It emerged from their language that most of the group felt excluded and marginalised by practising what a typical young person’s hobby is. This development led to formulating a manifesto using potent/active words . . . The letterpress workshop enabled them to condense their thoughts and develop the language of persuasive protest.” Alan Qualtrough

Prime Design letterpress workshop and Skater posters - credit Alan Qualtrough.
Prime Design letterpress workshop and Skater posters – credit Alan Qualtrough.

Writer Jo Higson ran a series of creative writing workshops for the Good Vibrations Women Writers Group and some of the pieces were published in a special creative writing section of community magazine, Stonehouse Echoes. Each group had the opportunity to invite a guest writer join them for a session and Good Vibrations invited Jackie Juno to give them a performance skills workshop.

“It has definitely increased wellbeing, it’s been lovely connecting with other people.” Good Vibrations participant.

Cornwall based writer Rebecca Tantony worked with TAP producer Tilly Craig and provided a series of workshops for a Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council women’s group. The PDREC group also took up the offer of a guest writer, inviting poet and producer Muneera Pilgrim down to Plymouth to give them a workshop.

“I feel excited and much more confident to write” – PDREC participant.