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Creative Writing

Creative Writing with Interfaith Glasgow’s Weekend Club and writer, Lynnda Wardle

In 2015 Interfaith Glasgow set up the Weekend Club. In collaboration with a team of volunteers from diverse faith traditions, the Weekend Club hosts monthly events welcoming people of refugee backgrounds. Each meet-up typically involves a fun, family-friendly activity and a delicious meal in a warm community atmosphere. The huge array of existing skills and forms of knowledge within this thriving community play a vital role in creating a welcoming, safe space for building friendship – tackling the social isolation experienced by many upon arrival in the city.

In response to group requests, we partnered with Interfaith Glasgow’s programme manager Lynnda Wardle, who is also a writer. Lynnda was able to bring a sense of familiarity, and a trusted space for the group to work within creatively as part of the Weekend Club community. From July – October 2022 she hosted two five-hour-long creative writing workshops in Glasgow and at Bearsden at sites related to the Wall. She also worked with group members individually during separate online sessions. The work was read by the group at an event held at the Hidden Gardens in Glasgow as part of a larger Weekend Club gathering.

We have shared some impressions of the experience of working on this project here, and hope to publish the amazing work of the writing group in full as part of a limited edition anthology.

Thank you to everyone involved in this uplifting project!

Nina Naserdost, reading at the Hidden Gardens, October 2022.

The first place the group responded to was the Hunterian museum in Glasgow’s permanent display ‘The Antonine Wall: Rome’s Final Frontier’. This was a complex and evocative experience. No-one in the group had visited the museum before, which led to a lively discussion about some of the barriers that exist to accessing the museum and the University of Glasgow, where it is based.

Back row: Fifi, Anwar, Odile, Desire, Mohammed
Front row: Ghanima, Fakhriya, Rizwana and Lynnda.

Whilst everyone clearly enjoyed the visit, there was also a healthy level of criticality regarding narratives of the Roman Empire. Questions were raised about crossovers in the mythologies of the Roman and British Empires. This was echoed in a display that is part of the ‘Curating Discomfort’ intervention at the Museum in which a guinea coin, minted from African gold, shows King Charles II wearing a laurel wreath.

The group was particularly interested in the experiences of indigenous peoples.

Fakhriya wrote:

“We explore and learn about the Antonine Wall. We walk around the Museum and each section is magnificently designed and put together. Everything is shining and pristine. As I walk, some of the objects catch my eyes and I stop to look and read… As I walk through aisle after aisle, terror and power are words running through my mind… When power is present, terror must be experienced…all the powerful were the main characters.”

Creative writing session at the University of Glasgow.
Sharing work around a Fire-pit at Bearsden Baptist Church – the site of a former Roman fort.
Rizwana Kousar in the gardens at Bearsden Baptist Church
Roasting Halal Marshmallows at Bearsden Baptist Church, July 2022

Odile Mbias Gomes’ writing was joyfully inspired by the effective simplicity of the technology of the Roman heating system – the hypocaust system. Her work reflected on the cost of living crisis facing British society today, and ended with a poem about warmth, home and security.

Odile Mbias Gomes sharing her piece on Roman heating systems at the Hidden Gardens, October 2022.

At the Hidden Gardens sharing event, weekend club volunteer Linda Haggerstone, wrote from the imagined perspective of Verecunda – a woman whose only known remaining trace is her name inscribed on a tombstone. After acknowledging that she may have been enslaved Linda decided to explore other possibilities of her past through song.

What linked each piece was the writer’s shared search for equality.

Questions I asked myself

Why are they different shapes?

Why are they made different?

There should be no barrier in the battlefield {equality}

What happens to the Shield after the battle?

Does the shield hold the same Honour as the Sword in the battlefield?

Fragment from the poem, ‘The Shield’ by Ghanima Abdulkarim
Ghanima Abdulkarim reading at the Hidden Gardens, October 2022