#BookLaunch #IAm… #Advocacy @CeartasAdvocacy @BigScotland @ @BadsvilleBroad @EDLC_Culture

Last night was the 2nd Launch of the anthology, “I Am…” produced by Ceartas service users thanks to generous funding from #TheBigLotteryScotland.

Thanks to the funding we were able to employ a writer in residence who facilitated the group for us over a period of 8 weeks and then involved the group in the editing and design process of production. Donna Moore from Glasgow Women’s Library was our writer and her passion, creativity, patience and warmth was second to none. She ignited a spark of creativity in all of us and I am certain that spark will continue to burn!

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Thanks to William Patrick Library in Kirkintilloch for hosting our launch last night! It was a fantastic turnout of friends, family, other services, elected council members and Ceartas staff and trustees who came along to hear about the project and of course to hear the newly published authors read some of their work.

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I have watched this group grow from individuals who had little belief that they could put a pen to paper to a group who can now consider themselves as published writers! We even had book signings at the end as people clamoured to get the authors to sign their copy of the books!

The group didn’t just write the stories that went into the anthology, they were fully involved in the design of the book and in the editing process. A special thanks to Rachele who designed the cover and the inside of the book. She took the group’s idea of a butterfly and hope and turned it into a work of art!

Ceartas is a charity that provides Independent Advocacy in East Dunbartonshire, advocacy is all about ensuring that individuals have a voice and that their voices are heard. At Ceartas we believe it is more than just going along to meetings with people or speaking up on their behalf.  We are always looking at ways in which we can support people to find their own voices and to use those voices.

If independent advocacy is about ensuring individuals have a voice then 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.

Words are a powerful tool for us all, yet for some individuals who use our service, they lack the confidence in using words, in using their voices to be heard never mind having the opportunity to explore the use of creative writing to enhance their wellbeing, developing their skills or telling their stories.

Words and language are important, we need them to tell others what we want and how we want to be treated; we need them to ensure our needs are met and that we are able to connect with others.

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We all have a voice and we all have stories to tell. Members of the group came along to try something new but with little belief that they could tell or write their stories. I think that the launch of “I am…” dispels that myth completely.

We have been proud to be a part of this group; we have taken part alongside members with no distinction between staff and service users; we were all learning and enjoying together. It has been encouraging and inspirational; we have had the opportunity as a group to find out about each other away from the daily stresses and strains of everyday life. We have laughed, and probably almost cried at times over the 8 weeks as we have all learned different ways in which to use our voices and tell our stories.

Ceartas feel incredibly proud of the work and commitment shown by members of the group; we have been inspired to explore further how we can use stories, poems and creativity to ensure that the voices of the individuals we advocate for are heard and we are incredibly proud that each and every one of the participants can now consider themselves published writers.

“I Am…” is available via Ceartas for a donation. Please contact Ceartas if you would like a copy or to hear more about the service. You can contact us at info@ceartas.org.uk or telephone us on 0141 775 0433 and we can arrange to send out a copy. All donations will go back into the organisation to support the work that we do.

To find out more about the organisations involved please click the links below:

Ceartas

Big Lottery Fund

Glasgow Women’s Library

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