Seagrave House Care Home, Corby
Partners: Made in Corby, Avery Health Care
Lead Writer: Jamie Thrasivoulou
Shadow Writer: Leanne Moden
Sessions took place between June and September 2019.
Participants worked towards a collection of art postcards commemorating the writing and memories of the participants.
Leann Moden says:
When Jamie and I arrived at the Seagrave Care Home in Corby at the start of our ten-week project, I don’t think either us were fully prepared for working with such a wonderful group of people in such challenging circumstances. We arrived with loads of creative writing exercises, ready to support residents to write their own poems, but our plans soon hit a huge stumbling block. Most of the participants had major health problems that meant that they couldn’t physically read or write, while others struggled to focus on the activities. So, we had to adapt: instead of writing, we talked.
And, in talking together, we learnt so much about everyone who participated: the jobs they had done, the families they had raised, their sporting achievements and their interests. We talked about Corby and its underserved negative reputation. We talked about pets and holidays, music and cinema, books and weddings, goats and Irn Bru. Everyone really seemed to value these chances to talk and to listen to one another, giving them all the chance to get to know each other on a deeper level.
One of the best things about the project was that sharing of experiences. While we didn’t always agree, we had some great discussions, and some really good laughs along the way. I wrote a couple of poems, inspired by residents’ experiences, and reading them to the group at the end of the final session was a real highlight. I think they really enjoyed hearing their own words in a different context, and I loved the challenge of creating poems from all their fantastic stories too!
One of the hardest things about the residency was the death of one of the participants, which happened towards the end of our ten-weeks at Seagrave. Joan had been a really active member of the group in the first few weeks, and even though we’d only known her for a short time, she was such a warm person that her death came as a real shock. Luckily, we were able to use one of her stories in the project, and it was a lovely way of honouring her memory.
The residents we worked with had so many incredible stories to share, and it was wonderful to be able to facilitate those conversations. We watched them grow in confidence from week to week, and watched friendships blossom and strengthen too. The participants were genuinely delighted that their stories would be made into postcards for them to keep, or to give away to their families and friends. This was one of the reasons why we felt it was important to use verbatim quotes in the project: this group of participants really needed to be told that their stories are important and valuable and worth something.
Although we didn’t end up with a room full of prize-winning writers at the end of the project, what we did achieve felt far more important: we helped the residents to voice their opinions, share their perspectives, and strengthen their self-esteem. I would go back in a heartbeat.
Jamie and Leanne worked with the residents to produce writing around memory. They created a series of 12 postcards, which celebrate the wealth of experience, knowledge and talent these older people bring to their community.
You can read them all by clicking through below.