Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


This project will offer vulnerable women the opportunity to express themselves through creative writing. High Peak Community Arts will team up with Writing East Midlands to work with local agencies supporting survivors of domestic violence – homeless women and those recovering from drug and alcohol dependency – to host a series of workshops where women will have the opportunity to write poetry and prose and contribute to a final anthology, no matter what level of writing experience they have (if any).

Workshops will be delivered to residents of Good News Family Care and women in the community supported by Crossroads Derbyshire, as well as other community members who choose to attend.

The project will bring together women who have experienced (or are still experiencing) hardships of many sorts, who are looking to move forward in their lives to a more positive future. We know that the arts are good for our health - creative projects build confidence and self-esteem, help develop friendships, and improve quality of life and emotional wellbeing. Enabling people to express themselves - to be creative, working and sharing with others, learning new skills - all contributes to improved wellbeing.

Research into arts and health (Dr. Theo Stickley, Nottingham University) stresses the importance of people first needing to feel ‘safe and accepted for who they are in a non-judgemental environment’, and then what emerges is ‘a very natural peer support that we cannot prescribe’. This safe space is exactly what we aim to create in all of our projects, with a good ratio of artists and staff to participants, ensuring the ability of the participants to relax and take part.
A professional writer will hold 6 weekly workshops for women involved in the two local charities, supported by a young writer wishing to gain experience and by GNFC staff and volunteers.

We expect to run a group with approximately 12 women who will benefit directly from the project, which we will monitor through weekly evaluations, tracking women’s progress from beginning to end of the project. We will create an anthology, but the exact nature of that will only be determined by the group – whether private for the group only, or to be distributed more widely. Likewise, we will hold a celebratory event, either private or more public. Sharing work with others through an anthology or a reading, and hosting a celebration at the end of the project will assist in building self-esteem and pride in what participants achieve.

The funding will pay for the writer, shadow writer, transport costs, materials and production of the anthology, and a Celebratory Event. It will also contribute to the costs of coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the project. Evaluation is vital to this kind of project as we learn from the feedback that our participants and partners give us.

High Peak Community Arts has a well proven track record of over 20 years in Arts, Health and Wellbeing projects, and Writing East Midlands have been delivering writing based projects for 10 years; they are experts in matching writers with relevant experience and skills to a specific group. It is important that sessions are guided by the needs of the women in the group. For some women, the act of creative writing will be one of escape and a way to focus on a positive future, but for others the act of revisiting their past is extremely powerful. Research has shown that the act of writing personal stories allows people to organise, evaluate and make sense of their life experiences, and having those stories listened to and validated by others is incredibly powerful. Research by psychologists such as Dr James Pennebacker (University of Texas) and Dr Joshua Smyth (Syracuse University) has shown that short-term, focused writing tasks for recording personal stories consistently makes people happier and healthier and improves their mood and sense of well-being as well as reducing stress levels.

Project Video

High Peak Community Arts (with a project for 'Good News Family Care' and 'Crossroads')

Moment of Pride

As High Peak Community Arts reaches its 39th year, we are immensely proud of our community’s ability to create outstanding art, improving their environments through the artwork, whilst transforming their own lives in the process - building confidence, self-esteem and strong friendships.

Location: High Peak