A poetry film presented at the Shameless! Festival
On Saturday 27 November 2021, the SHaME team and WOW hosted the Shameless! Festival at Battersea Arts Centre in south London. ‘Healing Hearts’, a young women’s group from The Lighthouse service in North London attended together with poet and film maker Sunnah Khan, Clinical Psychologists Dr Anna Churcher Clarke and Dr Isabella Girling, and Assistant Psychologist George Yerbury. They presented a short film which was a culmination of 6 weeks creative writing workshops, which were created by Sunnah and co-facilitated by the psychology team.
Background to the project
Healing Hearts grew out of the Young Women’s Wellbeing Group, which was set up as an interim 6-session intervention in summer 2021 for young women aged 15-18 accessing The Lighthouse service. The Lighthouse is a specialist multi-disciplinary NHS service in North London supporting children and young people in the healing process after experiencing sexual abuse. Its aims were to explore the impacts of, and responses to, sexual violence, on both an individual and group level; to reduce shame, stigma and isolation through connection with other young people, and for group members to share strengths and resources with one other. The overall ethos of the group drew on critical and community psychology, narrative psychology and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) approaches.
Facilitators took an explicit stance that sexual violence can be understood as a social and political problem which has negative psychological and medical outcomes for the individual child. In the group, young women explored their understandings and lived experiences of how sexual violence affects the mind, body, social and political spheres. In the final session they briefly experimented with creative writing as a means to express their developing voice/s and strengthen previously subjugated narratives. In the evaluation, group members expressed that they would like to continue working together and identify platforms for their voices to be heard.
Funding from Shameless! Festival provided the opportunity to develop a second phase of the group. The 6 week poetry group ‘Healing Hearts’ functioned both as an ongoing therapeutic space for group members and as a creative writing workshop, where they developed as individual poets and as a collective. Creative arts (primarily poetry and spoken word) were drawn upon as a means for group members to freely explore their inner and outer worlds. The sessions were planned around a weekly theme, and the overall shape of these themes developed as the workshops evolved. The weekly sessions were concerned with themes including: creating safety, on healing, and endings and beginnings.
The film showcases a collection of the poetry works produced by the young women during the group. The film was directed and produced by Sunnah Khan.