Workshops and Creative Shenanigans
My creative practice incorporates anything with words, in all their glorious forms.
You’ll find me leading poetry and fiction workshops for young people, older people and everyone in-between; being a writer-in-residence; gathering words at events as a community writer; devising curious and exciting schools programmes; and leading drama sessions. I’m a professionally qualified community development and youth worker. For further information, or if you’re interested in how we could work together, please contact me.
I specialise in working with people who aren’t in the mainstream, who are often termed ‘hard-to-reach’ – a phrase I loathe. No-one is hard to reach; you just haven’t tried hard enough to meet people where they are, and on their terms.
My qualifications, insurance etc are listed at the bottom of this page.
As Writer in Residence for MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) I spent an intensive month listening, talking, writing, gathering, setting wordy homework, drinking lots of tea, working with all the groups who use the building, the staff and the visitors to work out what was missing and what I could add. This ended up being An Invitation to Be Curious – mima’s schools programme based on all things curious, sparking a wonderful wordy adventure for all those young people who come to mima. This also involved choosing a piece of art from the stores and writing a creative response which now hangs in the gallery. I continue to have a wonderful relationship with mima, working as a freelance writer on lots of exciting projects.
As Writer in Residence for Disconsortia, a two day gathering of disabled artists in the North East, I designed and delivered a creative workshop, performed a spoken word multi-character headline set as the Crip Mistress, and wrote a commissioned lyrical essay based on the event.
Crossing the Tees Book Festival – I spent a month planning and designing numerous workshops, then over the course of an intensive fortnight during the festival I delivered five schools workshops (including SEN), five poetry workshops, a poetry masterclass and attended festival events meeting people and making lots of notes. I’m now collaborating with the Illustrator in Residence to write, create and edit a book of poetry about the festival which will be launched at a special event in December.
I deliver these for absolute beginners, those who have written lots and been published, and everyone in between.
I devise new, curious and imaginative workshops, specifically designed for each group I work with, ensuring that they are completely accessible, challenging in a productive way, and fun.
My way of working is that the arts should be open and accessible to all, and that means working in ways that make a group feel safe and nurtured to be able to write their best and most amazing work. I also deliver craft sessions using pottery, collage, banner making and a myriad of other fun stuffs that help a community grow, learn and have fun together.
I have delivered workshops for many different groups including Celebrating Age, Whizz Kids, PopUpPoetry Durham, women’s community groups, older people in residential settings, and in schools, prisons and probation hostels. There is a brilliant newspaper article about Creative Age here. (The photo is of me, not Bella!)
Workshops for schools and young people
I ensure that I have a full range of information about the young people I’m going to work with such as age, group size, literacy level, access needs and learning outcomes before I begin to plan a session to ensure that it is suitable for EVERYONE and I can tailor make it to be both effective, and fabulous. Every workshop is unique and planned meticulously, but my skills as a writer, community development and youth worker mean that I can adapt these as necessary – quick thinking on the hoof! I’ve worked with many schools on subjects such as identity, place, home, myths and legends and have provided skills in poetry for the page and spoken word performance techniques. As a disabled artist, I specialise in working with young people with special educational needs.
I work in settings where an organisation or a group want to capture the feel of an event and the words that have been spoken. The end result can be anything the client desires from straight forward reportage, to lyrical essays, to poetry and a combination of all three. I listen, talk, drink tea and write. I use tools to provoke conversation and debate, such as a boiler suit covered in questions, or an adapted twister spinner. Or I blend in and listen, allowing events to unfold as I paint a picture of it with words. These pieces are then displayed in galleries, given to the participants, placed on websites and recorded to be heard.
Recent commissions include the LIKE Project which was displayed in the ‘This is Water’ exhibition at mima, ‘Who Are We’ to collect stories for a City of Culture Bid, and North Ormesby Hackathon. This link to the Your Choice – North Ormesby website shows what happened at the Hackathon, as well as one of the pieces of work I produced.
I design and deliver exciting, original and innovative sessions for actors and poets who want to further their performance skills.
I also work with drama groups on their devising skills and blocks of work such as – What Makes a Story Work?
Recent commissions include working with Full Circle Academy comprised of learning disabled actors, with New Writing North on their summer schools, and as Movement Facilitator working with the community cast to devise and perform work for Occupation by Pauline Heath, produced by Little Cog, performed on the main stage at ARC Stockton.
‘Thank you for a wonderful workshop journey. Your warm up got the creative cells going, the quickfire focused my thoughts and then the stream of brilliant exercises made me fasten my literary seatbelt and enjoy the ride! A wonderful safe and accessible environment to write and share.’
‘Well planned. Beautifully executed. Exhilarating. Thoughtful & caring. Thank you very much.’
‘”Imagine your character looking at themselves in a mirror” I’m using this technique every time I write a character, it’s so powerful and I’ll be mentioning you in my MA!’
‘A lovely workshop that started with simple exercises and built into a deeper more emotional exercise. and there was food, too, so a fantastic way to spend the afternoon!’
‘Loved the sneaky challenge to write about art work that “didn’t” grab me.’
‘I found the workshop really interesting. It was great to try out different styles of writing and to write from different perspectives. Very enjoyable!’
Read more Nice Things People Have Said About Me here.
Qualifications, Training, Certification and Memberships
BA Hons in Theatre Acting: Devised Performance
MSc with Distinction in Community Development and Youth Work
JNC Professional Qualification in Youth Work
TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)
Greater Tees Practitioner Training Programme – strengthening skills and tools to effectively facilitate creative practice with socially excluded communities such as: young people including NEETs and PRU pupils, older people, disabled people, people experiencing homelessness, and refugees and asylum seekers
SPECAL Training with the Contented Dementia Trust
Introduction to Community Organising
Creative Leadership, delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs and funded by Arts Council England’s Transforming Leadership Programme – 2 years
BSL Level 1 with MeSign Teesside
Relevant certification and memberships:
Current Enhanced Portable DBS
All relevant local Safeguarding Qualifications
Public Liability Insurance
Member of the Society of Authors
Member of the National Association of Writers in Education
For further information, or if you’re interested in how we could work together, please contact me.