Stacks Image 2
Stacks Image 24
All the work I do in community or education settings is concerned with encouraging people to be braver, more playful and more expressive with language; to claim language as their rightful entitlement; to use words more creatively to interpret their experience and carve out meaning from the world; or simply to clarify what they think or how they feel.

The writing I do with groups and communities takes place across a wide spectrum of locations and settings: in schools, community centres, hospitals, museums, prisons, on radio or street corners. Sometimes the work is part of a long-term residency; for example, the Inside Me residency where I visited Rawthorpe Junior School in Huddersfield two days a week for two years in a project organised by Loca www.loca.co.uk, or my residency at The Royal Armouries in Leeds; or one with Father Figures, a project supporting lone fathers in Sheffield, and the several periods I have spent as Writer in Residence in British prisons. Since 2009, I have been Director of Spoken Word at Chapel FM, working with local writers and young people using the medium of radio to platform new writing. Other points of contact with groups are more short-term; day-long/half day workshops in poetry or scriptwriting.

I work with a great many collaborators in different art forms and with a variety of agencies and organisations. From 1984-90, the projects I undertook were mainly Reminiscence/Oral History with elderly people funded and commissioned by agencies such as Shape, ILEA, WEA, Age Exchange, Artreach, Equal Arts, and The Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough, Lincs. These often resulted in theatre and song events, or in publications. From around 1990, I began to lead workshops in creative writing, drama, and lyric-writing, with organisations like Opera North, ENO, and Heads Together. From 1996 I have worked a great deal for the Arts Council in prisons, as well as with the Music in Prisons Trust for whom I have helped produce a number of performances and recordings in jails, amongst them the award-winning BEHIND THE SECRET DOOR, a songbook by female prisoners for their children. For Father Figures I helped create several short films and anthologies including FATHERS FIGURE, an anthology of writing by fathers about parenthood. For Opera North, I have worked on many song writing projects with composer Hugh Nankivell.

For ArtForms/Education Leeds I worked with photographer Lizzie Coombes to produce IMPACT, a widely-used pack about knife crime. This last project partly originated in my residency at The Royal Armouries where I grew interested in using creative writing within the field of conflict resolution.
I have also chaired the committee of the Balkans Peace Park Project www.balkanspeacepark.org, a vibrant charity working in Albania, Kosovo/a, and Montenegro. See the article I wrote for the Guardian. www.guardian.co.uk/travel
Stacks Image 525