Dawn, one of the beneficiaries on the Bridge Project in Northumberland has got her creative juices flowing.  Further inspired by a creative writing workshop she attended through the project hosted by writer Bob Beagrie, a poet, playwright and senior lecturer in creative writing at Teesside University, Dawn hopes one day to publish a children’s story she’s written that will be read by children and celebrated on a future World Book Day…

Funded by The European Social Fund and National Lottery through the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the Building Better Opportunities Programme, Dawn is one of 600 Northumberland residents the project has been supporting since it launched in September 2016.

The Bridge Project led by Northumberland County Council, Bridge are working with people who face the biggest barriers and challenges, no matter what, to connecting or reconnecting with education, training, volunteering  and work. Working together with a number of Partner organisations, each organisation has been handpicked to deliver the project based on their varied specialisms working with people and communities with financial issues, mental health issue, building employment skills, volunteering among many more.

Dawn who joined the project in 2017 found that depression and recovering from a stroke made her lose confidence in herself and was looking to make changes in her life.  Not leaving the house and having spent a year feeling useless and guilty for not doing anything with her life, the Bridge Project helped Dawn to get motivated and be more like the person she used to be by supporting her to overcome the various barriers she faces to get back into work.  Some of that support includes; conducting a financial MOT with Bridge Partner Citizens Advice Northumberland as well as attending art taster sessions which has helped improve her social isolation as she’s met and made friends within the groups.  She’s enjoyed calligraphy, modelling and even graffiti which was a particular favourite for Dawn.

“Bridge has helped me to look at the positives not the negatives and gives you the opportunity to try things that you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to try – there is so much available and the creative writing workshop has inspired me to go for it and get my story published.”

Dawn’s story is about air travel and is aimed at children.  Her inspiration for the book was the impact of negativity around flying for children, wondering what impact bomb threats and added security at airports affect what should be an exciting time for children.  Dawn recalls as a child being invited to the cockpit on a flight to a family holiday abroad and believes the experience of flying is so different now and would like to change the way children think about the experience as a positive one through her book.

“I’ve loved the 5 week creative writing workshop.  It’s made me look at what I’ve already written and think differently, I’ve learnt some great techniques from Bob and will incorporate what I’ve learnt into my book. It would be amazing for someone like Richard Branson to pick up on this book for children travelling on his own airline!”

Martin Conway, the projects’ Engagement officer who organised the workshops said “We’ve been taking emotions and ‘personifying’ them into written forms.  There’s been some very interesting conversations about how people articulate their emotions, or in some cases, bottle them up. Everyone agrees that these sessions have been very cathartic and sharing lived experiences has been beneficial to their mental wellbeing”.

Before health issues removed her from the workplace Dawn’s previous job roles included; administration, customer service and she also taught English to young children abroad for eight years. After her stroke she felt worn out, lost all enthusiasm for life and fell into a rut.  Dawn was assigned a Bridge Worker, Andrew based within the project’s Lead Partner, VoiCeS Northumberland who has supported her on a one to one basis and has helped Dawn to see the bigger picture and tackle things one at a time.

“Since joining the Bridge Project it’s the first time in 15 years that I feel like I’m in a place where I feel emotionally stable and happier that my life is moving forward. I’ve realised just how far I’ve moved forward with the help and support of Andrew.”

Dawn’s ultimate aim is for a publisher to read her story, make recommendations and ultimately love it and get it into print.  She’s excited to be taking part in raising awareness of World Book Day on 7th March through the projects’ social media and hopes one day her own book will be celebrated and read on future World Book Days.

You can find out more about the project and how they can help you, or someone you know to overcome the barriers in their lives to bring them closer to the jobs market at www.bridgenorthumberland.org.uk