Creative Future was generously supported by the Baring Foundation’s Creatively Minded and Ethnically Diverse strand for our IMPART project–a year-long training, development, mentoring, and workshop programme for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse writers with mental health issues.
Since 2020 we have been committed to our national workshop programme being facilitated by past CF Writers’ Award winners. In putting a call out, we found many were interested but lacked teaching experience. It was also clear that confidence and affirmation of their identity as writers was also an issue. This was particularly true for past winners from ethnically diverse backgrounds, as well as those with mental health issues—and especially those from both backgrounds.
We also could not find any accessible creative writing teaching training programmes, likely because this experience is usually gained in Master’s programmes—something most of our writers lack the resources, confidence or time to undertake. As teaching is a key form of cultural employment for writers, this barrier needs breaking down.
The Impart project aimed to address these issues by:
- Identifying and providing training for six emerging writers from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds with mental health issues to develop skills, confidence and experience in teaching creative writing
- Creating a peer support network of these writers
- Matching these writers with mentor/trainers who are experienced creative writing tutors from the same backgrounds
- Together, the trainee/mentees and trainer/mentors co-designed/co-produced workshops for underrepresented writers
- Provided Zoom masterclasses
- Increased the size and diversity of our pool of creative writing tutors
We partnered with Writing Our Legacy to select the writers and match them with mentors. The participating writers were:
Georgina Aboud is of Lebanese and Anglo-Irish heritage. She lives in Brighton, where she works as a freelance writer. Much of her working life has been spent in international development focusing on gender, climate change and food security. Through this work and others, Georgina has been lucky enough to work all over the world including observing elections in Kosovo and Ukraine, collaborating with forest and mountain communities in India and Colombia, working on briefing papers in Bangladesh as well as pulling pints in Peru. Georgina has also worked as a carer, a TV and film extra and a dog sitter. Georgina was published under Creative Future’s Spotlight Books imprint. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of poems. Georgina was mentored by Akila Richards.
Born in Birmingham to Jamaican parents, Susan Hunter Downer moved to Nottingham to study, to London to work, and to Sheffield to live. She writes scripts, short stories, blogs, and poetry, and is a member of the editorial board of Short Fiction Journal. She won the Creative Future Platinum Prose Award in 2019, and she will serve as a shortlist judge for the 2022 Awards. She is currently working on her first novel, and her poetry will be included in an anthology in 2022. Susan worked with Yvonne Battle-Felton.
Tamara Gordon has been making documentaries and films for over twenty years for the BBC and Channel 4. Her focus has been on getting under and misrepresented voices into the mainstream media on their own terms, focusing on issues of race, belonging, mental health and identity. Most of her films been of her own volition and reflect her personal journey as a transracial adoptee. Throughout she has focused on models for therapeutic storytelling, inspired by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She has taken this into working with actors using a mixture of fiction and documentary. Her films have won eight international awards. Tamara was mentored by Rikki Tarascas.
Josephine Hall is a writer and artist, currently based in Brighton. She works primarily with words, but enjoys experimenting with other artforms and collaborating with artists and musicians. Josephine writes poetry, life writing, articles, essays, songs and has recently started writing her first novel. Her creative work tends to explore themes such as belonging, journeying, healing, connecting with nature and the Black/mixed-race experience. She endeavours to make work that is honest, accessible and amplifies marginalised voices, particularly those from the global majority. Josephine was mentored by Katy Massey and Akila Richards.
Jess Murrain is an interdisciplinary creative, working mainly in theatre, film and live performance. She is co-founder of Theatre with Legs, an experimental performance making company. Her poetry has appeared in Perverse, Powers Press, Queerlings, Tentacular and Under the Radar. She won this year's Ledbury Poetry Competition and the 2021 Silver Poetry CF Writers’ Award. She is also a member of the Southbank Centre’s New Poets Collective. Her debut One Woman-Horse Show is forthcoming with Bad Betty Press. Jess worked with Gboyega Odubanjo.
Saira Niazi is a writer, poet and renegade guide. Over the years, she has worked on various writing projects and self-published several books. Her latest book, On Belonging, Reflections of a Regenade Guide, explores ways in which spaces can connect us to ourselves and to each other. Saira worked with Denise Saul.