UNESCO Funding

UNESCO: Quay Words

18 December 2020

To celebrate Exeter’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, the Centre held a short call for literary research projects. 


Literature Works is collaborating with Exeter University’s Waiting Times project research team Professor Laura Salisbury and Dr Michael Flexer on a partnership designed to promote wellbeing and the creation of an inclusive community, held together by creative explorations of writing and storytelling.

Together, they were awarded seed funding to support the preparatory consultation, outreach and programme design for a series of community-based writing courses to be held as part of Quay Words 2020-2022 at Exeter Custom House. The programme design will enrich the Wellcome Trust-funded interdisciplinary project Waiting Times, which is itself supported by WCCEH, and ensure shared outcomes to meet the objectives of both parties.

This responds to priorities that Literature Works and WCCEH hold in common as members of the Steering Group on Exeter as a UNESCO City of Literature: the socially engaged use of the literature artform to promote health and wellbeing.



UNESCO Funding

UNESCO: Welfare Sanctuary

18 December 2020

To celebrate Exeter’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, the Centre held a short call for literary research projects.


 

When the country was put into lockdown, 25 of Libraries Unlimited’s staff from across the organization embarked on the Design Thinking process, developing ‘How might we support people through our services in the short to medium term of these Covid-19 times?’ questions in light of the public buildings being closed and physical services shifting on-line or no longer being available to the patrons. Given the various relationships people have to the physical buildings one of the themes that arose from the process asked:

‘How might we provide a sense of sanctuary beyond the library walls?’

The Welfare Sanctuary Project takes over disused or under-used urban/green spaces and provides a new place of learning for residents and visitors. A safe outdoor space where people can come together to experiment and discover more about organic food production, biodiversity and climate protection. The space will help them adapt to climate change and learn about healthy eating, sustainable living and a future-oriented urban lifestyle. Fresh organic vegetables and herbs are grown in raised beds across the site without the use of pesticides. There are seating and table areas safely positioned across the site where people can enjoy a drink and a meal. The food and drink concessions are rented on a rotation basis by local hospitality businesses, giving an on-going interest for locals to return, they are housed in adapted shipping containers. Likewise there is a shipping container library where people can arrange to pick up books and sit outside to read them over a pint and events arranged for small safe groups, such as Star Gazing, Flower Arranging and Bird Watching led by specialists as well as culturally engaged activity.

 

Project Partners:



UNESCO Funding

UNESCO: Creative Writing & Mental Health: East African Representations & Voices

18 December 2020

To celebrate Exeter’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, the Centre held a short call for literary research projects. 


Working with Kigali-based Huza Press and African creative writing teaching initiative Saseni!, this project is concerned with supporting East Africa-based writers to write and publish creative work that engages with issues of mental health. It is a creative, critical and collaborative research initiative concerned with highlighting the relationship between literature and well-being, with modes of supporting writers who are interested in exploring difficult and traumatic subjects, and with increasing the visibility and complexity of the narratives of mental illness circulating in the East African region. This forms a key part of an emerging stream of Africa-focused programming which is an anchor project for Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature, focusing on building event and research connections between Devon and East Africa. It will also enter into dialogue with work being done by partner Royal African Society, highlighting current innovations shaping mental healthcare in Africa today and developing a roadmap for working towards the WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan.

Led by Dr Kate Wallis, the seed funding enabled the team to begin building the partner relationships, audiences and digital materials to support a larger project. They initially worked with Huza Press and Saseni!, to develop and run a 2-hour online creative writing workshop for up to 15 writers based in East Africa. This workshop focused in particular on supporting the development of narratives around mental health that respond specifically to the challenges brought about by COVID19. Working with Huza Press and Saseni! to develop audiences and materials for this one-off workshop enabled the building of an evidence-base that informed the development of this longer-term project, providing vital information about writer engagement as well as the kinds of writing and support creative writers in the region are looking for and could benefit from.

Read the full report here: Creative Writing & Mental Health: East African Representations & Voice



UNESCO Funding

UNESCO: The Lockdown Blues

18 December 2020

To celebrate Exeter’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature, the Centre held a short call for literary research projects. 


“Many of us felt lonely before the pandemic, and the lockdown might have made this better, worse, or made no difference at all. Some of us have become isolated recently in a way which is unfamiliar. Living alone during lockdown might feel different to how it felt before; our relationships might have changed or suffered; and we might feel sad about keeping a physical distance from others, with no touching. We might have discovered we have different priorities and views to the people we care about. We may also feel unsupported or abandoned by the government and the decisions they’ve made about our well-being.

Some of us could be worried about what comes next, and if life was difficult before the pandemic, then we might not want to return to the way it was. It’s also not clear if our new support networks and different ways of communicating will stay or go, and whether some of us might be left behind.”

The Lockdown Blues is an online scrapbook for people in the South West to submit their thoughts, feelings and experiences, in whatever their chosen  medium, to be shared with others in regard to the COVID lockdown.

The researchers, Fred Cooper, Charlotte Jones and Olly Clabburn, designed this project to show people who feel lonely that they aren’t the only ones, and to provide a way for them to tell their stories. They also wanted to make sure that the way people feel during COVID-19 isn’t forgotten or overlooked, and explore the connections between reading, writing, creativity, and wellbeing.

Go to the Lockdown Blues website for more information.



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