Gemma and I headed off to Cardiff Bay last weekend, for a two day workshop with Graham Hartill on the theme of 'Working as a Writer in Therapeutic Community Settings'.
The course introduced the skills needed to be a facilitator of creative writing in community settings which have a therapeutic or care aspect, so it tied in very nicely with the creative writing courses taking place at the Barns Centre during March and April. There were 9 of us in the group, of differing ages and all from different backgrounds, but with common bonds of working with therapeutic/care communities, and of course with a love of writing. Over the course of the weekend the group worked really well together on writing exercises (including a collaborative poetry as grand finalé on Sunday afternoon!), in addition to which a good deal of spirited, interesting and intelligent debate took place.
During the weekend we touched on workshop techniques, the principles of both reflective practice and how to do evaluations of others’ work and of your own. We were given details regarding further possible training, and areas such as mental health, older people, and working in prisons were considered, along with individuals' ideas about their own prospective projects. Graham had brought with him a host of reading material, included his own books, and we were each given a copy of an anthology of writing from HMP Parc, Bridgend.
Before we said goodbye to one another we arranged to put together an email list of the group, and to let each other know how our various projects were progressing. This was a really worthwhile, productive writing weekend, and our thanks go to Graham, who steered, directed and informed us wonderfully throughout.
Graham Hartill is a poet, workshop facilitator and lecturer, with twenty years’ experience of facilitating workshops in the field of health and social care. He co-founded Lapidus, the national organisation for the field, worked for 9 years with older people for the Ledbury Poetry Festival and is now a writer in residence at HMP Parc. He teaches on the Metanoia Institute’s MSc programme and runs annual retreats at Tŷ Newydd, the writers’ centre for Wales.