Back in July 2010, Westminster Libraries’ Bengali Outreach Service, Westminster Arts, Queen’s Park Bangladesh Association and Queen’s Park Forum put together a bid to Well London as part of “Be Creative, Be Well”. We applied for funding for two projects working with local women from Queen’s Park: “Making a quilt of memories” and “Creative writing workshops in partnership with the Bengali Women’s Reading Group at Queen’s Park Library”.
Well London agreed to fund the quilt making project. Westminster Arts were really keen to work with the library, so put forward another funding application to Westminster Amalgamated Charities for the Creative Writing project at Queen’s Park Library.
The first series of eight planned workshops started on 19 October at Queen’s Park Library, with 12 participants. Along with Mahbuba Khan, the workshops were led by a professional tutor (Julie Garton) and also supported by a volunteer (Dina Begum). The project’s aims were to encourage Bengali and women from other backgrounds to work together in writing stories and poems about their lives, which then resulted in the creation of a booklet.
Fast forward to 21 March 2011, when a ceremony took place at Queen’s Park Library to mark the end of the project. The Lord Mayor of Westminster attended, and participants were presented with certificates and a book in recognition of their efforts. At the event, the participants performed three poems from the book as well as reading extracts from their stories. It was their first time writing stories.
You can read more about the event in the Westminster Reporter. Here are some comments from the participants:
“It was a diverse group of women from different backgrounds – made the group exciting and vibrant”
“I would do this again.”
“I have never done this kind of thing before and I would do this again.”
“I loved coming to the group every Tuesday and learned a lot.”
“I have enjoyed every moment and have improved my English. My husband was teasing me that I had become an author by being in the country for just one year!”
“It was a brilliant experience for me and I wouldn’t mind doing things like that in future.”