Creative storytelling workshop facilitators

Rachel Bower

Photo credit: Joe Horner

Rachel is an award winning writer of poetry and fiction and a qualified Community Development Worker with over ten years experience of running workshops. She has facilitated creative workshops for a wide range of groups and organisations in the community including schools, the British Library, Poet in the City, the University of Sheffield, youth centres, Sheffield Libraries and Barnsley Museums.

She has a particular interest in supporting women to share their experiences and stories through creative writing. In Sheffield she ran a series of ‘listening workshops’ for women, in collaboration with the British Library and Poet in the City. Rachel worked in collaboration with midwives, health visitors and local groups of women through the Sure Start centre, inviting women to reflect on experiences which may not have been recorded in the past.

Rachel often works with groups of women, to invite them to explore creative writing as a means to reflect, heal, tell stories, and connect with other people. She has worked with Rotherham Flourish (a mental health charity), for example; the ‘Mums Who Make’ group at Barnsley Museum; and the Storying Sheffield project which invited migrant women to tell their stories. Rachel has recently worked as a creative facilitator on several large health projects, including with young people living with OCD, people with chronic cough, researchers and clinicians. She always aims to create supportive spaces in which people can share their experiences without judgement.

Rachel’s work is represented by Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown literary agency.

Maya Chowdhry

Maya is a media artist and an award winning poet and writer who draws on her creative work in radio, poetry, Installation, and video. She works collaboratively with workshop participants to create experiences which help people to feel completely involved and absorbed in the work.

Recent projects include storytelling projects about poverty, race and food injustice (Continent Chop Chop), and (In)visible Women which explored the maternity experience of larger women in Scotland.

She created an online digital tool with LGBT+ young people at 42nd street, Manchester. She has also developed workshops for B Arts (a participatory arts project which involves communities who would not normally engage with the arts), digital media workshops for Roma young women, and young people attending mental health community groups.

Jessica Howarth

Photo credit: Rachel Hein

Jessica is an award-winning artist/maker who specialises in jewellery and textiles. She studied textiles at Winchester College of Art before graduating from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Jewellery and Metalwork Design in 2011. In 2018 she completed a Masters in Adult Education, Community Development & Youth Work from the University of Glasgow. Jessica devises and facilitates creative workshops for adults who have experienced social, economic, and health challenges in partnership with a range of community and healthcare organisations including North Edinburgh Arts, The Remode Collective and Art in Healthcare.

Jessica has most recently co-facilitated with Dr Jessica MacLaren from the School of Health and Social Care at Edinburgh, Napier University in delivering a participatory engagement project Underneath the Mask. These art-based workshops were set up to contribute to research exploring health service providers’ emotions.

In 2020 Jessica and fellow jeweller and teaching artist Lisa Arnott secured the Creative Scotland Open project fund to support their socially engaged year-long jewellery research project Flourish. This research project aims to explore the benefits of jewellery-making and metalwork to women who have experienced domestic trauma as a result of the pandemic. Jessica has undertaken Mental Health First Aid alongside professional development training with Health in Mind and Room For Art.

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