Voices from the Ashes

Writer & Storyteller in Residence Arts Council England logo



In 2014, I created The Voices from the Ashes project to give a voice to those using the services of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Working as Writer & Storyteller in Residence, I worked 2 days a week for several months at The Phoenix Hub, and Forward House in Erdington, both in North Birmingham.

Running storytelling workshops and one-2-one mentoring sessions in writing, I was able to creatively engage with a diverse range of people who visited these venues: service users, carers, and staff members.

words rising up from darkened embers into the fire of life

Many of those who came felt that, because of their illness, their voices were generally never really heard, or understood.  The ‘Voices’ project gave them a chance to tell their own stories…often for the very first time.

SONY DSCWorking collaboratively, we created a collection of stories, poems, songs and monologues to show the courage, struggles, insight and humour of those who have to live with a mental health diagnosis. 

The result was a high-quality print anthology – all 200 copies now sold or given to the wider community.

After voting on different titles, the popular choice for the book was Voices From the Ashes.   It seemed a perfect fit as often the stories people told had emerged from the ashes of depression and disappointment in their life. Yet, just like the Phoenix bird rising from the flames – they discovered they had voices that were vibrant and alive.

How It All Happened

The short film below records the highlights of the performance day

The Book Launch

The book was launched at the Phoenix Hub on Wednesday 25th June, 2014.  This fulfils the aim of this project… to give people who wouldn’t normally be heard…a voice.

Readers said they were “visibly moved by the powerful impact of these stories and poems”.

The support from Dirk Speksnyder (manager of  The Phoenix Hub) and Elaine Massey, manager of Forward House, was invaluable for this project.

Special thanks also to the team members who let me take over their premises on a regular basis…Annette, Sandra, Tom, Donna, Sarah and Sally-Ann.

Watching the Stories Unfold

Each of the videos below tell a different part of the story.

You can click on the You Tube symbol at the bottom right of each video in order to view them at full size and quality.


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