Over the last 15 years verd de gris has delivered a number of successful but small-scale participatory projects with women and girls – many of these projects have been targeted directly to support women dealing with a range of issues affecting their quality of life – depression, social isolation, domestic violence, low self-esteem. What has always amazed us is how important ‘culture’ was as a contributing factor – and something often overlooked by commissioners, support services, health professionals etc.
Building on our current #CreativeCommunities project we wanted to develop this programme of creative work with Women and Girls from targeted communities in Calderdale – giving us the space and time for a more focussed, integrated examination of the issues affecting this ‘group’ e.g. health & well-being but also educational and employment opportunities. We wanted to bring some of these women together with others whose lives are more rich and full – to create a genuine exchange of love and compassion … giving everyone the chance to hear and learn more about each other’s lives and circumstances and the common issues we all face as women!
As part of our Third Year programme we spent an extraordinary two days up at Whitestone Arts last Thursday and Friday. Sharon, Natalie and Amy-Rose from verd de gris brought together 24 women from very different social, economic and cultural backgrounds to share something of their lives and life experiences through song, writing poetry, dancing and to daring to DREAM!
It is impossible to underestimate what can happen when you create an environment that is SAFE: a space that holds no judgement and is led by creative, passionate and compassionate workshop leaders.
Here is a quote from Cath from Cath&AngusMusic who support some of the women through the ‘Hope Reclaimed’ project in Halifax …
“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you and your team. The impact the 2 days had on our girls was phenomenal. They came back and some were literally bouncing up and down as they came to find me and tell me how amazing it’s been. I even spent an entire car journey with B singing the songs to me…. bella mama….! One woman (L) said she felt there had been huge personal breakthroughs. She showed me the poem you wrote together – powerful stuff!! So just want to encourage you because you’ve really impacted these lives for good …”
And some responses from the women themselves:
“I feel inspired. Im full of fire and determination, light and hope. Everything we do has an impact.” Sameena
“Being here has given me the space to be myself. Everyone has been so generous of themselves and given such a lot of positive energy. This is a beautiful place. I lay in a field and watched swallows flying overhead!” Polly
“I will take away self belief, confidence and self respect. I am beautiful and my presence makes a difference to others in a positive way!” Saalihah
“I will take away: Love from the group. Belonging from the group. Hearing the whisper in my ear from the group of beautiful women. I will treasure the memories created. When we all sat and created the piece of art, you could feel the energy in the room. I will remember the many smiles that were shared and the singing was just WOWW. I closed my eyes to feel the vibration in the room. Truly grateful, an amazing gift. x” Debbie
People fly – what was achieved in only 2 days will stay with us all for ever …
The project is funded through Big Lottery Fund and is part of the Creative Communities initiative with Square Chapel Centre for the Arts.