Posted on Dec 07, 2020
People Speak Up offers a wide range of community arts projects in Llanelli. The doors of People Speak Up are open to people from all backgrounds and all ages. The organisation offers its participants the opportunity to engage with others within the community across several different platforms, including Story Care and Share, Young People Speak Up, Spoken Word Saturday, and more.
To learn more about some of the regular participants and volunteers’ experiences, I have spoken to some of the people involved in the various groups.
Karen first heard about People Speak Up through University when she was studying applied drama at UWTSD. She was invited to take part in a day-long workshop at Ffwrnes Fach as People Speak Up work in partnership with UWTSD. In this workshop, she created a lifeline with different art and craft pieces.
She enjoyed the day so much that she asked Eleanor if there were any opportunities to volunteer for People Speak Up.
Soon she volunteered for People Speak Up on an intergenerational project at The Hollies care home and at a comprehensive school in Pontardulais.
Karen has been involved in several different projects with People Speak Up and is a regular participant in Story Care and Share. She has enjoyed many of the sessions and finds it hard to choose a favourite. She found Clare Murphy’s session to be the most inspiring while, Dominic Williams’ session was the funniest. A session with Tracy Breathnach has been the most calming.
Volunteering with People Speak Up has helped Karen gain the confidence to mix with different age groups. She has always had a fear of care homes, and through being involved with the intergenerational projects, she has overcome these fears.
Throughout lockdown, as Story Care and Share has been held online in Zoom sessions, Karen has gained the confidence to speak in these sessions. This confidence has grown dramatically and has even facilitated a very successful session on postcards. Karen is also now working for People Speak Up as a freelance facilitator.
Karen has also volunteered in other projects for People Speak Up and these have inspired her to create workshops.
“I would never have been able to strive forward and put myself forward to do all these things if it had not been for that very first workshop with Eleanor (People Speak Up’s Artistic Director) that gave me the courage to ask if I could be involved. Before this time, I was a bit confused as to where I could move forward with what I wanted to do when I left University. Being part of People Speak Up has given me direction and various skills to help me interact with people in the community.”
2020 has been a challenging year for Karen, her mum passed away during the lockdown, and she was not able to see her for the two months prior to her passing. During the lockdown, she has also completed her degree. This was testing but gave Karen something to focus on.
Here is a piece written by Karen:
The flick of the rusty red darts into the unknowing.
The leaves swirl around the space it has just left.
Uncovering the army of small ants, moving into, under new spaces.
The overhead call of a cuckoo as it has just invaded another bird’s space.
It fills the air with all the pompousness that it feels it deserves.
The flick of the rusty red darts into the unknowing.
Holes that gather creatures of the night lay silent,
Waiting for the footsteps to lessen and the moon to rise.
The stripe, the claws, the fierce gaze lingers, smelling the earth’s floor.
awaiting the silence.
Tiny fur balls dart across the rich dense floor of mud and debris.
A hoot from above makes the pathway a meal for one, until
tiny creatures move faster to another space.
Dry grasses hiss and the whirrrrr of a fern,
and seeds from a fairy fill the air with a special time.
A space for nature, a break from the flow of daytime,
that brings life to the forest floor.
When looking for new things to do after her mother died, Lynne found People Speak Up. Her first experience was attending a storytelling workshop with Eleanor. Her earliest memory of working with People Speak Up was retelling a very personal story during a workshop and again later at a public event with People Speak Up.
Lynne attends Story Care and Share sessions. Each writer that has facilitated the session has sparked some creative response from Lynne. This was exactly what she has needed throughout lockdown.
Story Care and Share has also offered Lynne the opportunity to meet and get to know the other participants and she also loved hearing their work.
People Speak Up has helped Lynne find a new direction and has given her the impetus to be creative. Both her mother and her sister died within a few months of each other. Lynne had been her mother’s carer for a time as she had dementia. Taking part in People Speak Up projects such as Story Care and Share have helped her to rebuild.
Throughout the lockdowns, Lynne has been shielding with her husband who has severe asthma, and her daughter who has Downs Syndrome. The nice weather toward the start of lockdown was a Godsend and she enjoyed sitting outside in the garden first-thing and enjoying the peace and tranquility. This was after the anxiety over arranging food deliveries and worrying about catching the virus has passed. There have been downtimes when the outlook has seemed quite bleak and Lynne did miss out on seeing her other daughter and her grandchildren as well as walks on the beach. She has also missed social interaction, which is where Story Care and Share has come in.
Story Care and Share is currently run via Zoom on a Wednesday morning and Friday evening. Currently, the Wednesday session also has a limited capacity for members to meet in person at Ffwrnes Fach. Spoken Word Saturday is held every second Saturday of the month.
If you would like to take part in any of the projects run by People Speak Up, or you’d like to find out more, get in touch today.