Sitting in the upstairs artspace at The Booth Centre. One of our regulars is beside me writing, practicing his calligraphy.
“Therapy, isn’t it. It slows everything down. Got a bit of space to think.”
He’s working through alphabets, letting the letters form and as they do, thoughts arrive. He talks about his life, relationships. Talks about grief and recovery, the ritual of making letters marking time to the words he speaks.
There’s a gentle murmur of chat around the table in response. People have entered the making space, the place where imagination runs ahead of us, like a guide using only intuition.
On the other side of me, L is drawing a forest scene at the bottom of one of the calendar pages. Deer and a stork, in gold paint, behind them is a moon rising, up into the sky of the page. L speaks gently, almost timorously, she is into the artwork fully and deeply.
Working in the corner of the table is an old friend, someone we worked with 10 years ago in the old Booth Centre which was in the basement of the Cathedral. It was a small crowded room where we ran the sessions and everyone who was there remembers the crush and the bustle with affection. He’s working quietly right now, on a page that introduce The Joys, our latest chapter of the book.
It’s a page of flowers, free floating clouds of watercolours. They sing on the page, speaking of the summertime. He smiles at me, “Think we’ve met before but I can’t remember so good these days. Bit too much of that.”
He mimes drinking a beer.
A new person joins the group. They’re worried about the creative writing, worried about everything. “Joy isn’t really my thing at the moment, I’m living in fear. Living in Dystopia, isn’t it. Out there.”
He nods at the world outside the window, like acknowledging an enemy. We talk a little and suddenly he says, “Beneficence! Someone said that word to me the other day. It’s a beauty isn’t it? It’s what doctors are sworn to when they take the Hippocratic Oath, the commitment to healing and never doing damage.”
He asks for paper and a pen.
“Maybe I can write something after all. Just a few notes…”
This workshop was part of the project A Book of Ours, creating an illuminated manuscript with people who have experienced homelessness or at risk of. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Booth Centre is here to bring about positive change in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, to help them plan for and realise a better future.