The Hope day centre in Northampton, for the homeless, disadvantaged, unemployed and in poverty, is place that inspires its users to be creative – through art, singing, other crafts – and through creative writing.
Hope believes that giving opportunity for people who are experiencing the problems above to be creative helps address some of the tough issues they face.
We are crowdfunding to support the publication of a collection of the writing produced by the group - to give their voice wider exposure, increase understanding, and showcase their lives and talents.
The idea for a creative writing group came from Lorna Robjohns, a Hope Centre volunteer for many years, and she continues to support a former teaching colleague, Dave Blake, who has led the activity since June 2012. The group meets fortnightly through certain periods of the year and, at the time of writing, there have been 125 sessions. Generally, participant numbers are from four to eight, with some very regular attendees providing the cornerstone of the group.
Each self-contained session is based around a theme (e.g. a memory of place, a folk tale, truth) and the starting points vary. Examples are a list of words, idioms or quotations, a picture, a told story, a song lyric or an object. The concentration on one theme in each hour and a half session provides a focus for the writing, generates energy in the activities and also takes account of the fact that there is no guarantee of continuity in participants’ attendance.
Within the timescale, there is usually opportunity for focused talk, some short burst writing and the writing of a longer piece, although this is often limited to about 25-30 minutes. Only very occasionally is any writing further developed and completed at home. The stimulus for the final task is quite an open one within the theme, with the aim being for each author to have choice in how they approach the subject.
A vital element of the group is the sharing aloud of the writing produced and the authors are very supportive of the output of each other. The atmosphere is such that new members feel sufficiently comfortable to read out their work and there is an appreciation that each individual has his or her own style and will often be drawing on very personal experiences.
The emphasis of the group is very much on encouraging people to express themselves in writing without them being too concerned about issues such as handwriting and spelling. What you will read in this book are the participants’ first draft reactions to the tasks encountered. After each session, everyone’s work is typed up so that authors can receive a copy of their own pieces and for display within the Hope Centre. At this stage, the writing will have been spell checked and sometimes have had punctuation strengthened. Except for these elements, there is no attempt to redraft or further edit the work.
By gathering the lived experience of people on the margins together into this book, we hope to let others gain a little insight into the lives of people excluded from society. The publication of this book will provide an opportunity to reach an even wider readership. We hope those who read the work of the group will catch a glimpse of the talents and lives of a world and a community most people just walk by.
The legendary comic book author and local resident Alan Moore is a friend to the group, attended to encourage people, and contributes a foreword to the book.
By supporting this Crowdfunder, you can be part of something truly special