Source: Launch copy
Publication: 15th February 2018
Ceartas have published “I Am…” an anthology of the work created by some of the individuals who use their services.
Ceartas provide independent advocacy to people over the age of 16 living in East Dunbartonshire. Thanks to generous funding from Big Lottery Scotland, Investing in Ideas, they were able to employ a Writer in Residence to facilitate an 8 week programme for people who have used the services of Ceartas.
Many individuals who seek advocacy only do so when all other routes have been exhausted. Many feel disempowered, voiceless and personally deconstructed. Using your voice and telling your story is the antithesis to being recognised only by a label.
Independent advocacy is about ensuring individuals have a voice and what better way to assist that process than using creative writing as a means of providing an outlet for that voice. There are so many labels attached and assumptions made about people living with long term conditions; many face stigma and discrimination as part of their daily lives; they are often denied a voice or lack the confidence to use their voice and speak up for themselves.
Writer in Residence, Donna Moore from Glasgow Women’s Library, worked with the group over a period of eight weeks to create a portfolio of participant’s work to include in the anthology.
“Creative Writing fits perfectly into the work that Ceartas does: it’s about assisting individuals to express themselves in a manner that does not focus solely on their literacy skills; it is about demonstrating to others the impact that having advocacy support can have on individual circumstances; it is about coming together to learn new skills, reduce isolation and to evidence their effective skills in communication no matter what level of literacy skills they have.”
Sharon Bairden, Services Manager
As a bookblogger, I try and get to book launches and book festivals whenever I can. These are always fun and enjoyable occasions, where you get to meet and chat with authors as well as getting that precious book signed.
Few book launches though have touched me as much as the one that Ceartas held in Glasgow Women’s Library (my favourite library, ever).
Why? Because these were readings given from the heart. Readings by their creators, tentatively expressed at times, but which gave a voice which, in many cases, has never been expressed in a public forum before.
And each was perfect. Creative, real, and a testimony to the individuals involved. As you read through this volume, you hear the voices, loud and proud, expressing their sense of self; their hopes, dreams and fears.
What these pieces of writing do is amazing; they allow you to see and hear from the people behind the physical presence. Take this example from Gilly. Recovering from a brain tumour, visually impaired and in a wheelchair this is who Gilly really is:
I am pink like the summer sunset
I am Gabriel’s oboe solo from The Mission film,
I am dolphins jumping out of the waves in Spey Bay
on a sunny day.
I am spring flowering of all the bulbs in the garden – bluebells, snowdrops, baby daffodils- a carpet of colour
Or this from Susie;
She looked at the now withered flower
Like the now withered love in his eyes
The ‘you’re mine’ bracelet
As a token of all his lies
The door handle she’d barred from his parting
As she pleaded for him not to go
The ticket she’d found
That had told her
He’d left a long time ago.
The half bottle of gin
That she’d open
Drown her sorrows once more
Then let go.
There are so many terrific stories in here that it repays your time a hundredfold to stop and pick one to read every day.
The book itself is beautiful, colourful, creative and very well produced. It is a credit to the writers and designers who collaborated and chose the format.
This is not a book you can buy, but I would urge you to seek out a copy by going to the Ceartas site here and offering a donation. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. My copy has signatures from some of those who read on the launch day. It is a treasured possession.
More information about this project and those involved in making it happen from:
Don’t just take my word for it though, look back and see what others have said: