Since the summer of 2016, we’ve been teaching creative writing to a group of people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction at the Hackney Recovery Service (with St Mungo’s). Lily Dunn initially got in contact with them because she lost her father to addiction some years ago, and wanted to do something positive to overcome her helplessness around the circumstances of his death. She really enjoyed teaching this group, and as the weeks progressed and more members shared their work, she was amazed by the writing talent.
So, Lily applied for an Arts Council grant to continue working with them, which she was awarded just before Christmas. She has developed the group and each week it gets bigger. Zoe Gilbert will be teaching some sessions, as well as Tom Mallender (Write London) and Stephanie Hutton. Students will learn the fundamentals of good writing, with fun exercises and facilitated writing time. Special classes will be held on found poetry and flash fiction. The writing group at St Mungos is the inspiration for this project, and members' poetry and prose will be featured in the anthology, alongside recovery stories from writers across the country. If you're interested in submitting work, please contact Lily.Dunn@Mungos.org
Testimonials from 2016's group:
"Lily's classes have given me confidence in my writing. I have written some personal stuff and I don't feel judged by Lily or the group. It's helped me in my recovery as I have only just realised through coming here that I have a voice. I previously felt unheard by lots of people in my life" - R.S.
"I've found this writing group as important, if not more, as any other group I've attended through the Recovery Service. It has been amazing for my recovery and for my writing. I have been writing so much more and have loads of ideas for stories I want to develop, and Lily has been giving me feedback on my work. Her creative writing classes have opened up a new world to me." - A.M.
"I have found the creative writing sessions really unique. They have helped me develop my ability to express myself and also feel free to make a big mess of words on paper and pull a thread of something out that might have some potential. The other real benefit it has given me is allowing me to look back at my own story, frame it, shape it and smile at it. Something that gets lost through the midst of addiction. Now it's floating back up to the surface and leaving a positive memory. Lily is helping me take control and work with my own individual story, which is vital." - V.C.
"Creative writing was mentioned to me in choir. I was all ears. I have been doing well with my key worker over drug and alcohol problems and found myself with some long days and no structure. I have been to every creative class/workshop and really have gulped it down. It has so far been an extraordinary journey for me, tapping into my past and writing about it, reading it aloud. Lily has read out some incredible pieces of literature that have made me begin to feel really alive again. Love it." - S.V-H