Following a trauma, it might not be high on the to-do list to pick up a book to read or a pen to write. However, the benefits of reading and writing for enjoyment, or for therapeutic purposes, can bring about a sense of joy and freedom, or even provide a way to escape.
It is because of this belief in the power of literacy that the National Literacy Trust works with the incredible Anawim Women’s Centre in Birmingham. To mark our 30th year, we have gathered stories to celebrate the many ways that lives have been changed by three decades of the National Literacy Trust. Let us delve into the Anawim Women's Centre community and discover how our work has changed life stories there...
Anawim Women's Centre, Birmingham
The Anawim Women's Centre in Birmingham provides a safe and welcoming space for vulnerable women, to help them recover and rebuild their lives. The women they help come from a range of backgrounds, some fleeing abusive relationships, whilst others are receiving support on release from prison.
When the team at National Literacy Trust learnt about Anawim’s supportive community, we knew we could add value to their safe and judgement-free zone, providing a class where women can come along and bond over a shared love and enjoyment of literacy. Each month, Birmingham National Literacy Trust hosts workshops called Words Rising, based on themes of empowerment and confidence raising – encouraging the women to read for pleasure, but to also write creatively as a therapeutic tool.
The group ignited Nigina's love of reading
Nigina, one of the women being supported by the centre, arrived at her first workshop feeling shy and afraid of judgement, with no recollection of the last time she picked up a pen. However, it didn’t take long for Nigina to become fully immersed. By the time she left the session, she was able to say “I loved everything about [the workshop], it was amazing and enlightening.”
Led by Dr Kate Rumbold from the University of Birmingham, and Antonia Parker-Smith, the women taking part in the workshop studied snippets of Shakespeare, and enjoyed a trip to his birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, where they visited the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre, meeting some of the actors after their performances.
Nigina told us that the trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, was a highlight of the workshop, and it left her feeling incredibly happy. Through the course of the workshop, Nigina discovered that it helped her to “write and speak with great confidence, compassion and enthusiasm”, and that it gave her “inspiration, motivation and hope that anything is possible.”
The support of the Words Rising group has ignited Nigina’s love of reading, and she now carries a book in her bag wherever she goes. She feels more positive about the future now and is taking on further studies.
You can be part of changing life stories
Helping people to develop their literacy skills can help them to find their voices, ultimately giving them a platform to share their stories and inspire others. If you would like to support us so that we can continue our work with the women of Anawim, you can donate here.