The power of coming together to share stories

22nd November 2018

As we launch a new playlist of Write to Recovery readings, SRN’s Erin tells us more about the magic from September’s ‘An Evening of Readings’ event.

Listen to the Write to Recovery readings 

In February 2018 the Write to Recovery project hosted its first reading event, a night designed to provide a safe and encouraging platform for people to share their stories of recovery. Stories of pain, resilience, hilarity, regret, gratitude, humanity- powerful stories made even more so by the act of being spoken out loud. Readers and audience member alike left that night uplifted, connected, empowered. September saw the second instalment of ‘An Evening of Readings’, this time hosted at The Glad Café, a charismatic social enterprise in the Southside of Glasgow. Once again we were elated to see the enthusiasm groups had to be part of the celebratory event.

Write to Recovery works with groups to create spaces where participants can find creative ways to express how they have overcome adversity and distress in life. The group work provides opportunities for people to creatively articulate solutions to complex problems such as mental ill-health and psychological distress. By acknowledging that there may be no one ‘correct’ way of coping, Write to Recovery invites participants to explore, with the support of a group, what can help them towards recovery.

As a group facilitator, it was extremely uplifting to see the many people I’ve worked with come together to create a space so rich in compassion and support. Strangers cheered and shouted praise and encouragement to each other and applauded uproariously as each reader concluded and climbed down from the stage.

The readings performed were as diverse and vibrant as their authors, from poems about climbing out of hell, and discovering strength in grief, to stories about embarking on a journey to save the world, and finding out the world will sometimes save you back. Each writer’s unique stylistic voice could be heard, and within it they showed the form their resilience against adversity has taken. For many this was through humour and wit, or poetic beauty; imaginative fantasy for some, for others a brutal declaration of truth – but in every piece the same irresistible message rung out and it was one of strength and pride.

 

Two attendees from an Edinburgh group told me how pleased they were to have found a reading evening that was inclusive and open, without an atmosphere of competition. Write to Recovery groups emphasise that there is no such thing as good or bad writing, what is important is that group members feel supported to express their thoughts in whatever way they feel works for them. In the same way that they are able to see new ways of coping with distress by hearing how others do so, people also learn, and are inspired to try, new ways to write through hearing each other’s creative work.

Listen to the latest readings

The first playlist of readings from our September ‘ An Evening of Readings’ event can be heard on SRN’s SoundCloud Channel.

What’s next?

As well as working with projects and organisations across Scotland and beyond, Team Write to Recovery are currently planning a series of reading events for 2019, bringing the opportunity to other cities around the country. The success of the podcasts produced from the reading events has also inspired the project to run dedicated podcast-recording events, inviting groups to come together to record their writing in the safe and support environment of a Write to Recovery session.

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