News: 30 for 30

Birmingham’s Looked After Children Education Service’s Story

Keshena Bowie

Working with Geese on projects specifically aimed at unaccompanied minors was a humbling and inspirational experience.  

As a collective - Geese and Virtual School - we did not know how this would work, we had discussed what our aims were but we were heading into the unknown. 

The week was a great success: all the children spoke positively regarding their experience and embraced the opportunity to tell their story and make new friends. To exemplify this commitment a young person decided to re-arrange their weekly session with a therapeutic mental health care worker as he felt that the week was proving to be more effective in helping him deal with his feelings. It became evident that attending this project helped to alleviate anxiety the young people might have been suffering by meeting others they could relate with.

This was shown during circle time when young people were able to share their experiences in their journey to seeking asylum in the UK. Examples included:
• A person talked about his journey, using a map of the world.  He showed us the countries he travelled through sharing experiences like running at night across borders while sleeping in the day.  He told us about losing the soles of his shoes, and how cold the nights were.
• Another young person talked about how his brother had been killed on their journey and why friendships had now become important to him.

In reflection, the week provided an environment for young people to feel more connected to their adopted country and formed a kind of group therapy, helping those with less confidence to also contribute positively. The week was also important in giving young people a voice.  

To conclude, through the medium of drama the group explored themes of social isolation, emotional issues, self-confidence, sense of belonging, conflict, positive decision-making and future aspirations.  
A truly inspirational week full of laughter, learning, bonding and a few tears for young people and adults alike! 

Louey’s story

Keshena Bowie

Louey* has worked with Geese on a number of projects in prison and wanted the chance to share his experience as part of our 30th Birthday...

I could relate to it, it was real life and it hit home because it was me.  I didn’t realise about my masks.  Now I’ve seen them I know how I use them to block people out.  I enjoyed it.  I opened up.  It was normal people so I think that helped.  Thanks to you.  Made me realise what’s underneath.

*Not his real name

Be part of our 30th Birthday and support us to make more projects like these happen.

Mark’s story

Keshena Bowie

Mark Ball is the Associate Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival, but started his own journey here at Geese...

Almost 3 decades ago my first job in the arts was as Geese Theatre’s very first Administrator.  It was the job that shaped me, not just because it gave me the organisational tools in finance, marketing, planning and fundraising to become a producer, but because it taught me the values of achieving things together as a team. Everything was run on shoestring, the pay was a pittance and working conditions could best be described as basic – on tours we all slept, cooked and ate on the company van.  And that life in the company, working with some of this country’s most difficult and damaged offenders, was often simultaneously hilarious, outrageous, shocking and humbling.  But it’s not the Geese anecdotes I reflect on from my time there.  After all these years, it’s the sense of comradery, of growing as people together, of a shared purpose where a bunch passionate young people who believed in the power of theatre to affect change made incredible work together. Great organisations understand that their agency comes from growing people and in everything it does Geese does that, and I shall be always be thankful for my own Geese journey.

Alison’s story

Keshena Bowie

Alison was a company member from 2002 to 2006.  Here's her story...

My time at Geese was the most extraordinary and exhilarating learning curve. As a wide eyed new member, for three weeks one freezing cold January I had the privilege of observing Alun work with men in Full Sutton Prison on “Insult to Injury”. I remember the care and skill Al displayed as the group trusted him with their stories, let down their masks and grieved for the loss of their youth, their freedom, their hope. His stillness and grace as he witnessed their pain will stay with me for a lifetime. I was hooked. Blown away by the power of this work, by the dignity of the process, the way it allowed vulnerability in the most brutal of places.
All the work I have done since has been shaped and informed by my learning at Geese. After Geese, I co-founded Re-Live, a life story organisation, and have been delighted to collaborate with Andy Watson on our work with veterans and families over the last few years, and to benefit from the expertise and wisdom of Clark as we developed our life story training programme.
For me, Geese was profound, challenging, heart-breaking and full of dark humour and resilience. Deep friendships made, tough lessons learnt, countless extraordinary experiences and memories.
I also met my husband there so thank you Geese in many ways!

The story of a Journey

Keshena Bowie

“I thought you were all going to be a bunch of civvy c****s, but actually you’re alright…”

In 2016, K took part in JourneyMan, a week long programme designed to address wellbeing and confidence for people in custody, particularly those who might be at risk of suicide or deliberate self-harm.

After working with Geese over 5 days, L was clearly inspired.  A week later, we received an email from a staff member at the prison to say that K was going to run a marathon for us, on a treadmill in the prison gym!

K raised over £400 in sponsorship, mostly from his fellow prisoners.  The average working prisoner earns about £10 a week so K must have been very convincing in telling people why he needed their sponsorship money!

 

Sponsorship and donations allow us to deliver projects, like JourneyMan, that inspire, motivate and change the perceptions of people in prison.  Can you support us to do more?