Verd de gris arts – awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service 2021
Encouraging involvement and access to the arts to empower communities and change lives.
Verd de gris arts were established as a creative arts company in West Yorkshire in 2005. We use creative activity and positive community engagement to help local people express themselves and articulate issues and concerns that matter to them – as individuals or as part of a wider community.
As a small company verd de gris can do and have done many wonderful things in our aim to impact on areas like community health and posi0ve social change – but none of this is possible without an active and committed team of volunteers.
We have always sought the help of volunteers – helping in our various intergenerational projects and support work with older people. Very often these volunteers were young people looking to gain experience in health and social care, or arts practitioners keen to explore new ways to support older people in meaningful, life-enhancing activities.
“I think that by being a young person I played an important role in showing the older people I worked with that many young people are caring and interested in community issues. I believe I challenged older people’s percep;ons of younger people and what our experiences my genera;on has had.”
Bronagh Sheridan, Volunteer
More recently our emotional wellbeing work has led to many participants staying with the company as volunteers, wanting to give something back to other women who have been living with similar negative life experiences. For many of these women just walking through the door into the first session it takes a great deal of courage. Many are so broken. The love and support they receive as part of this creative project work brings a deep sense of connection, with the company, and the other women they meet in the sessions. This experience helps them to understand themselves better, to trust each other and to develop the strength to begin to make real differences in their lives.
“I think the most amazing experience was seeing verd de Gris taking so much interest in working with people from differing background and showing compassion in helping clients from various walks of life. It was amazing. It wasn’t done to hit targets or statistics for commissioners – it was more then just a job. It was about bringing humanity together and connecting the dots between human beings regardless of their colour, race, religion and backgrounds.”
Samea Mahboob, Volunteer
Volunteering with verd de gris is about embarking on a journey of discovery. Often it involves learning about a health condition that is new to the volunteer. It may mean meeting with and learning to support a group of people and/or community that is very different to you. A big part of the journey is about listening – being responsive and sensitive to an individual participant’s needs – it is also about exploring and responding to some of the core life-lessons that shape how and who we are as human beings.
“Verd de gris are unique. I have looked at volunteering before but the unpredictable nature of my son’s illness made it almost impossible. I cannot guarantee I will be available at a specific time. I believed I would never be able to have a professional life as long as my son Luke lived with me. Verd de gris’ approach is so different. They never lose touch with you, and keep you within their family for as long as you need their love and support.”
Cath Senior, Volunteer
Increasingly our work has focussed on the acknowledgement and celebration of lived experience. Using one’s own experiences and finding the courage to engage, articulate and share takes a tremendous amount of resolve and strength. Many of the people we have met and worked with as participants have experienced acute trauma / a lifetime of pain and struggle. But, with the help of verd de gris, they have gone on to use these experiences to help others in a similar space: making films, speaking at events, taking the lead.
“I got a chance to share my story and it was a really cathartic experience for me. It also became a film, and led to peer support groups in Calderdale and Central Lancashire for affected families and individuals. The resulting ‘What Remains’ film we made as a family was premiered at the 10th International Suicide Bereavement Conference in Manchester in 2019 to over 400+ delegates from around the world. I was there with my mum to present this film and talk to the audience.”
Mary Brooks, Volunteer
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Jeff Turner
verd de gris arts
mob: 07926 978651