Dementia Awareness Workshop, Apna Gallery, 25/04/17

My morning was spent in the quaint area of Haslingdon where bright sunshine and sudden snow were in great conversation together. 

I was here to raise much-needed awareness about Dementia in the South Asian community through creative writing exercises with the women of #Apna, an amazing community group organised by Arry Nessa in Haslingdon. 
This particular exercise was an object led discussion around memories and my challenge was the fact that there were four different languages in the room enriching the experience. English and Urdu were no problem for me but Pushto and Bengali required some hands-on translating provided by my fellow sisters. 
I decided quite early on that writing would go out the window and adopted discussion activities instead. Loved hearing about all the different memories and experiences that shaped these women and then discussing what happens to us when memories start to disappear. Who do we become and how do others respond to this change? What does it mean for an individual to lose their ability to judge, think, communicate and look after themselves? How can we help? 
800,000 people have Dementia in the UK. Let’s make sure our communities are well informed so that sufferers and carers are supported in the best possible way and the stigmas attached to it are eradicated.  
#dementia #dementiaawareness #AlzheimersAwareness #alzheimers #communityhealth #creativewriting 

March 11th Outside The Frame Arts – ‘Platform For Palestinian Arts’ event 

It’s been the most wonderful journey for Outside The Frame Arts and my God, how many friends have we made along the way? From supporters, to participants, to mentors, to facilitators, to fellow artists and to all the wonderful story tellers, writers, poets and playwrights we have engaged with! Without them, it would never have been possible. 
From the inception – the sowing of the seed over a year ago, to the finali R&D sharing event yesterday, it has been a pleasure creating new writing and informing a wider circle of people about the rich tapestry of Palestine and the people that make it what it is despite all the odds of military occupation. ‘Ordinary people living in extraordinary situations’.

 Thankyou all especially Nikushka Mailer – my fellow friend and director of Outside The Frame Arts and the one whose vision drove this project, Mahboobeh Rajabi our brilliant digital artist, Zahid Hussain author of The Curry Mile, Manchester Muslim Writers Collective and facilitator, Elmi Ali poet/playwright and facilitator, Ahmed Masoud Palestinian author/playwright, Hannah Khalil Palestinian playwright,  Young Identity poets Roma Havers, Meschach Brencher, Isaiah Hull, Nasima Bi, Joel Cordingly, our actors Yasmin Babiker & Tanzil Chaudhary, our performers, arts therapist Kerry Bertram, poets’ Rose Snow, Laurie and Mary, AnnMarie at PANDA, Garfield at STUN, Ruth Daniel at In Place Of War, Afshan Lodhi at Commonword, Shamshad Khan at Hard Rain, Arry Nessa from Apna, Manchester University Drama dept, all the participants of our workshops and everyone who turned up yesterday to support us! 

Watch this space for much more and catch up on where we are going next on The second phase is going to be a blast!

You can also join our mailing list so you do not miss a single thing!  🙏🏽❤️xxx

Future’s Venture Foundation! We got through! :) 

So recently I was one of the artists nominated by  writer/performer Keisha Thompson for a radical arts fund that we could use to enable us to carry out various projects we had wanted to build on within the communities we live in. 

Outside The Frame Arts has been doing some amazing work such as our project, ‘Platform For Palestinian Arts’ and to cut a long process short and after submitting our proposal,  I am pleased to say that Nikki and I made it through to the second round! 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽 Read all about it here!

Sounds that exceed 80 decibels! 

What a fab name right? If you’re wondering what it means, it’s the title of the new anthology to be published by Commonword, Manchester, featuring the poems, plays and prose of the Women In The Spotlight collective of which I happen to be part of. The cover illustration is awesome created by Bethany Georgia Hermitt. Women In The Spotlight are entirely made up of BAME and/or LBT+ women who often face challanges to make their voices heard. This is a reclaiming of agency. Poetic, powerful and a pleasure to be part of. 

Afshan Lodhi, the editor, has bestowed upon us the title of ’15 bad-ass women!’ to include herself too. From creating plays together to an Arvon residential perfecting our craft, to this new anthology packed with poetry, monologues  and performance pieces, it really has been a wonderful creative process. Come and join us for the sharing by booking on the link below and I’ll see you there xx 

Let’s be radicals! 

Taking two minutes out of my day to send a reflection out to emphasise how important it is that we’re mindful when working as a team, voluntary or paid to ASK how others are, to check and remind ourselves that we’re all people, not numbers or slaves.

 Sit together away from the work and enquire after one’s soul before we assume their efforts are not up to scratch or that their lacking in performance. So much misunderstanding around because we don’t apply mindfulness in our everyday lives, to ourselves, to the people around us and to the organisations we interact with. 

All in positions of power need to be aware. You are responsible for the well being of others under your care and how you honour that is KEY to spreading good energy around. Making someone feel appreciated goes a lot further than being crass and negative in your dealings with people. They are PEOPLE. Not slaves. 

Our egos, societal pressures to perform success, not being in tune with our true needs, capatalism and so many other factors work against us! 

What we are trying to embody when we tune into mindfulness actually equates to a revolutionary movement- imagine that on a grand scale, a genuine force for positive personal and social transformation- and in todays climate that in itself would be radical! Let’s be radical together! 🙂 

Wordsmiths of Manchester 15/11/2016

As someone concerned with and forever negotiating her place in the world, I tend to fluctuate – as many of us do between the joy and highs of being alive, cradled by a greater being and having faith all will be ok to wallowing in the unsettling grip of anxiety I attribute to  weltschmerz – a feeling of melancholy and world weariness. With the global situation of war, poverty and suffering the way it is, it’s hard not to remember the hidden bursts of energy and promise in our everyday – here right on our doorstep. 

Why am I saying this? Yesterday I was invited to be a slam judge at a competition involving different primary schools who had actively worked with members of Shirley May’s amazing Young Identity group ( they meet at Contact theatre and I HIGHLY recommend ) as part of the Wordsmiths initiative founded by the dynamism that is Chris Jam. Together they deliver a brilliant programme encompassing literacy, activism, poetry and performance. 

Hosted with the rallying passion of Reece Williams and hearing pupils shouting loud, their lyrical manifestos of the hidden histories of Africa, black identity and empowerment together with their skilful weave of language and imagery-was an utter pleasure to watch. The room was bursting with an energy that spoke to me of ‘potential’. The right investment of unbridled passion, a well rounded education in which they see themselves represented and the space to think critically using the arts is what children of today need to nurture their potential. This event highlighted that so clearly. 

The hall projected confidence, intelligence and power and that alone left me with a spring in my step. We never had these types of programmes at primary school when I was growing up and they are vital to nurturing those very skills in children that have a far reaching influence in their personal growth than just mainstream education alone. I’ve worked in schools to have seen first hand what this type of programme does for the confidence of children. I want all these wordsmiths to never lose that ‘want to be made of Obsidian’ we encountered yesterday! We couldn’t stop clicking!  I also got to listen to one of my fave young poets in Manchester right now, Isaiah Hull finish off the event with his poetry and the pen in his hand. 

All the schools were excellent in different ways. To me in a world hell bent on silencing certain voices, every child that makes their voice heard is a winner! I thank them for reminding me of hope and then some! X

Panda Arts & Union Street Media Arts ‘Creative Breaks Celebration’, 13/12/2016

Today I attended the Creative Breaks Career Development Programme delivered by Panda Arts and Union Street Media Arts where participants have the chance to acquire skills to help further not just their careers but their own personal development too. Mentors and hidden gems helped teams to produce the very best pieces they could. 

Participants shared the various live projects they had been investing time and effort in for weeks and it was an absolute pleasure to see the results. We watched films about The Rochdale Pioneers Museum, The Ancoats Dispensary ( the first hospital to offer free treatment to the public ), a film about the creative breaks  programme itself and evenan alternative  Manchester tourist guide. 

The ‘Start at Square one’ project was heartwarming to watch and even more pleasurable to be a part of. I was asked along with four other artists, to feature in a zine magazine exploring the subject of ‘starting again’ and what this meant to all of us as BAME or refugee artists. 

The event ended with many certificates handed out by the board members to all those who had worked tirelessly to make their projects a success. 

The work of grassroots organisations such as these are a vital part of establishing and maintaining community cohesion. It also makes such a difference to peoples lives, a better understanding of the self and their own potential. Lets hope we see much more of this kind of work. Well done Panda Arts & Union Street. And for you reading, please support these projects wherever you come across them! X