At a time when we are in a state of flux, it’s very normal to feel lost for words. Perhaps not surprisingly, we believe in the power of words and the benefits creativity can bring to all of us, but particularly young people. In that spirit, our new programme is providing eight weeks of creative writing/ performance poetry workshops for teenage boys in Stockport. We are aiming to engage teenage boys in a more creative activity, and also give them the opportunity to creatively express some of their emotions about the events of the last few months. It will also have the added impact of raising engagement in English at school and offering an alternative extra-curricular activity for boys who would otherwise perhaps not be engaging in wider activities.
Over the summer, we had a number of local organisations and families talk to us about the specific impact that the pandemic and school closures has had on teenage boys – they have become increasingly isolated and relied even more heavily on digital entertainment and communication. This has left them feeling detached from their families and peers, and also extremely anxious about their return to school. It is also clear that they have not discussed the impact of the pandemic/ school closures on themselves, or addressed the emotions that they would have felt during this extended period of uncertainty.
We therefore looked to develop a new programme to support this emerging need, and secured funding through Life Leisure’s #RTime funding campaign to run a pilot programme.
Put It In Words was born!
This programme is running in Woodley, Stockport every Monday for 8 weeks. It takes place at Start Point Cafe in Woodley Precinct every Monday 5-6pm and there are still places available – (please get in contact for more details!) Each session includes food, along with other treats and great chat/ entertainment. The first three sessions have been a huge success, and have included some amazing initial poems being drafted (and performed!) Check out some of the example pieces below.
The sessions are led by local English teacher/ tutor and performance poet/ published writer Antony Szmierek, with support from Dan at Start Point (who is also a really great poet but he didn't know it!).
By running these creative writing workshops we hope to reengage teenage boys not only in sessions that would help them reconnect with others, but also give them the opportunity to write in a way that could help them address and discuss their emotions, leading to decreased chances of ongoing anxiety as a result of the lockdown. After three successful sessions, the group have decided to focus on writing and producing a performed version of a piece of poetry based around 2020. Watch this space for their final pieces of work!
As a result of the programme’s great start, we are looking at how we can expand this programme to work in some of our partner schools over the coming months. We also hope that these sessions will help them feel reengaged in their English work at school, and help them progress further academically. Most importantly, by taking part in workshops, we hope to build confidence, communication and resilience in young men which will help them both transition back to school and prepare for exams and future career pathways.
We want to use poetry to help the boys taking ‘put it in words’, but also, by sharing their work, we want others who read it to know they are not alone. And really that’s all any of us want at the moment isn’t it?