The Arts Project

The Rees Arts Project is an ongoing part of our Aftercare package for care experienced people. So far, we have run four art exhibitions featuring paintings, sculpture, photography and poetry from the care experienced community, as well as a National Short Story competition. We believe that creative expression can be instrumental not only in the recovery process from trauma but in exploring identity and having your voice heard.

Centre Stage

Ben Westwood

Every month, we will be sharing the work of a care experienced person who expresses themselves through different creative mediums. Our second creative is Ben Westwood.

Ben Westwood


Ben is a poet and musician. He says, 

"For most of my life I’ve really enjoyed playing guitar, singing and song writing as well as poetry. Three years ago, I wrote a book about my childhood as a runaway. Being creative completely chills me out, especially the music side of things. Sometimes I forget that, and wonder why I don’t feel so good and I say to myself “Aaah, I haven’t sang for a week.” But also, being creative enables me to transform my pains and frustrations into a medium that other people are more likely to respond to in a positive, meaningful way. A way we can try to educate each other whilst enjoying ourselves." 

"I’m from Staffordshire and went into care around aged 10 after running away lots of times from home and sleeping rough in nearby towns. I then found myself in London at 12 years old and spent much of my teenage years living on the streets of London whilst being missing from various foster parents and children’s homes. I then stayed in London for a few years growing up in hostels and squats mainly before moving around the country. 

After releasing my childhood story written in poetry, I share my life experiences of being in care and living on the streets as a child runaway to social workers, foster parents and the current wave of ‘Care leaver revolutionaries’ that are collaborating together to change the care system. I was offered a job working with young people not so long ago so I’m trying to raise money to help me move down there."

Check out extracts of his poetry here.

You can follow Ben on Twitter @PoemsFaRunaway.

You can buy Poems from a Runaway or Ben’s new book This is Leatheton here. 

National Short Story competition 2019

In late summer 2019, we launched our first National Short story Competition for care experienced writers. Our criteria and aims were simple: to create a friendly and open competition where norms of grading spelling, grammar and a pressure to delve into autobiographical detail, was avoided and where creative storytelling was paramount. The idea came from one of our Care Experienced Ambassadors Jacqui Adams who said, "I woke up one morning with the idea of a Short Story Competition, restricted to Care Experienced People and to encourage those who are not confident with writing for many reasons."

On 31st October 2019, we had our Awards Ceremony at Midlands Arts Centre, Edgbaston. It was an incredible evening; bringing together members of the Care Experienced community with non care experienced professionals, government representatives and local dignitaries.

We were fortunate enough to have prizes added to our own award bundle from the amazing IMO, MADLUG, and Green Willow Healing. These included audio book vouchers, writing kits, Birchboxes, aromatherapy goods, sweets and rucksacks. Thank you!

Prizes

If you would like to read two of our winning entries you can do so, here:

Maggie by David Grimm. 

No sugars please by Tychique Ciamala. 

Congratulations from all at Rees Foundation.

Art and Poetry exhibitions 2019

Saira Jones

Mind Vomit by Saira Jayne Jones.

Find out more about our Redditch exhibition here or by downloading our Art exhibition brochure. 

If you would like to know more information, or if you would like to pitch an idea relating to any of the arts (Fine art, poetry, writing, photography, drama, art etc) please contact our Arts Project Coordinator : kim.cormack@reesfoundation.org


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