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A Year of Expression, A Year of Creativity: Reflecting on a Transformative 2023



As we approach the end of 2023 we have spent some time reflecting on what a truly incredible year it has been for Talitha Arts - full of transformation, growth, and making an impact in the lives of those who have experienced trauma.


This year saw us work with 13 partners, returning and new, on a variety of tasters, programmes, projects and events over the past 12 months. We have worked in women's refuges, mental health hubs, youth centres, refugee centres, care homes and community hubs across London, Kent and Birmingham conducting our therapeutic arts workshops.


We worked with 255 individuals who have experienced a full Talitha programme, and 558 individual engagements, which has included 62 workshops. This year, we have received so much fantastic feedback on the benefits of our work from our partners, beneficiaries, and their families. This year we had 8 people train, shadow and become Talitha practitioners and worked with 8 new partner organisations. 



This year also saw us tackle and thrive at our biggest event to date - The 2023 RHS Chelsea Flower Show! Chelsea and the relocation of the garden to our partners at St.Margaret’s House has been a whirlwind of hard work, planning, awards and great, great pride for us at Talitha. As the smallest charity to ever have a garden at Chelsea, we are extremely proud of our whole team's efforts to make our mark at such a prestigious event, where we not only won  gold, but also  ‘Best in Category’! We were able to spread the word of the power of the therapeutic arts and all that Talitha Arts does to support those made vulnerable by trauma and will continue to do so as we head into a new year too. 


Without further ado, let’s take a look back at 2023…


Maya Centre



We opened 2023 working with The Women’s Hub at the Maya Centre in North London. Maya supports women on low incomes whose mental health has been affected by a range of experiences including depression and anxiety, violence against women and girls, inequality, discrimination and racism. We ran a 6 week programme with the women over a 12 week period (Jan- March) and the programme was designed to spark joy, allow for self-expression, and build a sense of togetherness.



The programme took inspiration from the turning of the new year and the journey from winter to spring tim, helping inform our themes and journey throughout the programme. Talitha focused each session with a theme to act as a through-line between the activities. Themes such as growth, nature, connection, and hope were incorporated over the duration of the programme with activities such as dance, movement, collage making, poetry and singing to bring these themes to life.


The creative freedom they showed throughout our programme with the Maya Centre was clear to see; one participant stated,

"I feel as though I’ve danced inside my body." 


The women connected during the team building activities, laughing with one another, problem solving, and offering verbal support to each other throughout the workshop programme. There was a real sense of playfulness created, as the women agreed they could, "set my adult self aside and let my child self speak” and felt they had ‘permission to play’ within the sessions. To read more about our work with Maya, click here.


Gaia



Throughout the year we worked with a long standing partner of Talitha Arts, The Gaia Centre, who are the Lambeth branch of charity Refuge. We worked with them running various workshops and programmes over the course of 2023 from March through to December. We worked with their LEAP (Lambeth Early Action Partnership) service who work with young pregnant women or with women with children under 4 who are facing gender based violence and abuse.



We worked with the Gaia Centre running a programme open to all service users of Gaia and also ran 3 sessions for the staff/ caseworkers. Running sessions for the staff felt important to the senior management team as their staff run heavy caseloads and work up close with trauma daily. It was an opportunity for them to check in with themselves and have a therapeutic space to express themselves and connect to their colleagues. Gaia Refuge is a long standing partner of Talitha Arts and we are so pleased to have been able to work with them on a variety of projects this year and provide both their client users and staff a contained and supportive space to connect and create through the therapeutic arts. 


Ella's



As Spring time came into bloom we ran a programme for our Partner, Ella’s. Ella’s are a London based organisation who support survivors of trafficking and exploitation. Over April we ran a month-long programme titled ‘Wellness Through Creativity’ working with a group of women using ‘growth’ as our main theme. The women enjoyed creating and working together over the course of the programme and bonded through the Talitha Activities.




Ella’s kindly passed on words from one participant (for this purpose we will call her Jayne) on her experience of working with Talitha:


"I found them (the Talitha workshops) helpful as they felt very grounding and gave me an opportunity to think about myself and what I would like to feel / be going forward and in the future. Normally I feel like I'm stuck in the past when I think about how I feel, and that feels very suffocating. It felt good to be reminded that that will (hopefully) change in the future and the past will become less suffocating. It felt empowering that everyone in the room knew I was a service user and had experienced trafficking, but that wasn't how people saw me, I wasn't a victim, I was a survivor and a person."

- Jayne


The staff at Ellas also informed us of how much more trusting ‘Jayne’ was with her caseworkers after the sessions and how much more comfortable and open she had become. Individual stories and cases such as this are what drive us to continue our work and to aim to bring the Talitha approach far and wide to all those who could benefit.


The Chelsea Flower Show





May soon rolled around, and with it came our busiest month to date, for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show! All of our team members and garden design teams worked tirelessly as the show week approached, ready to bring the Talitha Arts Garden to life. The week was a whirlwind of awards, events, royal visits and chatting with the public about all things Talitha.


We were thrilled to have won ‘Gold’ and ‘Best In Category’ and were incredibly proud of our Designers, Joe and Laura Carey, who had not only created a beautifully planted and constructed garden, but had captured the story of Talitha in it so wonderfully. 


The days were long and physical, fuelled by coffee but mostly exhilaration and pure fun! We are so grateful to all of our volunteers who manned the garden and chatted with the public about the story of the garden and the work of Talitha throughout the week. We couldn’t have done show week without them.



During show week we also ran a brilliant after hours event which was a wonderful opportunity for Talitha to come together with donors, partners, trustees and friends to celebrate the charity and thank everyone for the key roles they play in making the work possible. It was a humbling and special moment for such a small charity such as us to pause in the madness of Chelsea and take a moment to acknowledge how far we have come and all that is in store in the future. We are so grateful to Project Giving Back, our sponsors for making this possible for us and honestly, we are still processing this once in a lifetime opportunity … to read more about show week, read the blog here. 


St. Margaret's House



As summer came into full force, ‘The Talitha Arts Garden’ was rehomed to its forever home, in Bethnal Green. Talitha was the first of the 2023 charity cohort to rehome their garden.  Its home is now in the garden space of our wonderful partners at St. Margaret’s House - an arts and wellbeing community hub in the heart of East London. As part of Project Giving Back's ‘Garden for Good Causes’ project- all of the charity gardens are rehomed in a place of their choosing so that they can live on and benefit the organisations and their beneficiaries. Once the garden was snuggly in place we spent no time hesitating to make the most of this new and tranquil space.



Over the summer months we conducted many fundraising events and performances, poetry readings, and workshops on the garden- christening it in its new home. We are so pleased to have this space to use that is so calming and beautiful for our work and that can also be enjoyed and used daily by the local Bethnal Green community too. It has been a wonderful addition to St.Margaret’s House space and for our growing partnership. 


Hestia



In July, we ran a short programme with our fantastic partners, Hestia, who support people in crisis. The women that attended threw themselves into expressing themselves creatively, and their comfortability grew throughout each workshop. They foudn a real sense of playfulness working with the scarves and clay, and thrived being given the opportunity and permission to play.  One participant travelled from Kent into London to make each session and said she ‘enjoyed every session Talitha provided’


Talitha Arts Practitioner Training



As we entered July we began our Talitha Arts Practitioner Training Programme. We trained 8 new highly skilled and passionate practitioners in the Talitha Approach. The training was a combination of online and in person sessions that took the practitioners through trauma-informed learning, creating safe spaces, safeguarding and our unique approach to planning and conducting therapeutic arts workshops. The sessions culminated in the trainee practitioners leading Talitha workshops for the rest of the groups. We believe that the training should reflect the work and give our trainees an opportunity to apply their learning in a safe and supportive space, up on their feet. We were so impressed by all of their hard work throughout and were very pleased to welcome them to the team.


Dalemead Care Home



Shortly after the training finished, in the height of summer, we conducted our first of two shadowing programmes for the new trainees. Over August, 3 practitioners joined and shadowed one of our annual 6-week programmes at Dalemead Dementia Care Home. They began by observing and, slowly over the course of the workshops, began to confidently lead and assist in planning the sessions. We explored many summery themes while working at Dalemead, such as ‘a day at the beach’, ‘fairytale stories’, 'summer soirees’ and much more. The sessions were sensory based, engaging and gave each resident an opportunity to feel celebrated as they expressed themselves and created. Our new practitioners did fantastically and we are so thrilled to have them on our books and now working with the community as Talitha Practitioners. 



Medaille Trust



Summer was a busy time for Talitha Arts, in which many programmes ran, including another of our long standing partners, The Medaille Trust. We conducted two separate workshops with two new branches, one in East London and one in Kent. Medaille is one of the UK's largest providers of safe housing and support for survivors of modern slavery. We ran our workshops in their safehouses for groups of women to support them to connect and express themselves through the arts.





The workshops incorporated movement, breathwork, team activities and creative tasks with themes around strength, hope and unique qualities informing the work. A Caseworker who joined for the sessions shared,


"The women appeared to benefit from being with each other and integrating with each other as sometimes they won't spend much time together. I think it's important/ beneficial for them to take some time out to focus on themselves. The art seemed to bring out positive memories from their past and it was nice to see these positive memories shared."

Young Roots 



As early Autumn came around, we started work with a new partner, Young Roots, for monthly workshops at their youth centre. They are a London-based charity working with young refugees and asylum seekers aged 11-25, most of whom are alone in the UK without their families. They support young people to improve their wellbeing and fulfil their potential, through one to one and group services.


We worked with their youth group conducting workshops that had a drama and movement focus. The young people really enjoyed the team building games and activities and working together. The games brought laughter and participants out of their comfort zone while they worked together to achieve shared goals.


Over the monthly sessions with them they created imaginative and thought provoking group pieces, using new ways of communicating stories and emotions. We focused on themes such as ‘what makes us feel strong’, ‘no right or wrong in creative expression’ and ‘self empowerment’. We’ve created movement sequences, group soundscapes and acted out stories and ideas together over the months of working with the young people.


It has been great to see them thrive and connect in our workshops and witness their confidence grow with communication and teamwork. We look forward to working further with Young Roots into the new year. 


Pilot Workshops



We have also run a number of successful pilot workshops throughout the Autumnal months, securing 2024 work with new partners. Organisations such as The Baytree Centre - a social inclusion charity who works with young women and girls, and Orchards - a women's charity working with survivors of sexual exploitation.



We ran a successful confidence building workshop with Baytree for a group of girls aged 11-14 which was a great success with the girls, sharing;


"I loved how expressive it was"


and


"I loved to meet new people and create"



They described the session as "memorable, sociable and creative". We are so looking forward to returning to the Baytree in 2024 to work further with the young girls and further develop our confidence building work.



Winter at Talitha - Shadowing, Dalemead and Festive Fun




The winter months saw us conducting our winter training programme and some very special festive special workshops.


We completed our second shadowing programme at Dalemead Care Home training up a further 4 practitioners to join our team.


The programme saw us explore a wide range of activities from music and singing to craft and creation. We explored the change of seasons from autumn to winter looking at autumnal leaves and pumpkins into festive storytelling and tree decorating. The programme culminated in a very special festive celebration in which we invited our trustees, practitioners and Talitha community along to join us. The session was a great success and brilliant festive celebration for the residents and their families. 



Family Festive Workshop



And finally, the perfect way to the end the year at Talitha Arts - our final workshop of 2023 was a Festive Family workshop with our partners, St. Margaret's House. Talitha provided a feel good festive workshop for all the family and St. Margaret’s provided festive food and drinks and a space for families to connect post session.




The workshop looked at themes of light and hope and encouraged families to think about what they want to give and receive metaphorically at this time of year and what's important to share with others. We had festive lanterns of hope that each family member decorated to make them unique to them.



We are so grateful to all of our brilliant partners, old and new, who we have had the privilege of working alongside this year on such a great variety of programmes, tasters, events and fundraisers. We are so pleased the work we provide continues to help support these wonderful organisations and the mental health and well-being of the client users they serve. And of course, we could not be more grateful to all of our Talitha friends and supporters for making everything we do possible - without you, we would not have the transformative impact we have had in the lives of those who are made vunerable to due to trauma and mental health issues.


This has been a brilliant year for Talitha, and one we will never forget - we look forward to all that 2024 already has in store for us and to continue our mission of bringing creativity, connection and healing through the therapeutic arts to those who need it most. 


A sincere thank you and best wishes for the Festive Season!


love & light,

The Talitha Team




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