iaa-feb-16-a-downie-7Elaine works in a community organisation with women who have experience of the justice system.

I have chosen this door as this made a significant impact on my life. I was age
12 and this story was initially read to me by a teacher. It caught my attention and I fell in love with the complete freedom and inspiration that the words of another made on my imagination. I have been an avid reader ever since. Every year since the age of 12 I have read this book and have never grown tired of that feeling of being lost in the world imagined by another which has then in turn allowed me to explore my own imagined worlds.

This was our first experience of being involved with a Vox workshop and also our first experience of taking part in a song writing group. There had been a lot of excitement within the project in the lead up to the workshop about what we would experience and what process we would go through and the ultimate question of whether we could indeed complete the task of writing a song.

The women within the project embraced the idea of taking part in the group wholeheartedly they talked for weeks before the group about ideas they could bring forth and things that they could write about. It was refreshing to hear their enthusiasm but it was also awe inspiring to witness the frankness, emotion and honesty they expressed about the very personal experiences that they wished to write about.

I have worked with these women for a number of years now and I have seen them in many situations and witnessed them dealing with many adverse experiences in life. From Mental health problems, homelessness, addiction, abuse, trauma, incarceration and the loss of care of their children and they have always inspired me with their honesty, strength and ability to ‘keep going’ to change their lives in a positive way. What I witnessed in the workshop was all of that but more there was an openness and an honesty to not only participate but to write something that had meaning a legacy if you like to the person they were writing the song about. Instead of fear about the finished article there was an eagerness to write a personal message to a parent, child, loved one and to express emotion, sorrow, love and longing which they often find difficult to express with the spoken word.

It was a privilege to be a part of that and it is a memory I will always hold dear. I wish and hope that these workshops continue as it gives a voice to people who struggle to be heard and it emphasises the importance of what they have to say.
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