Doorway Writing Group November 2016

Another session of our Doorway writing group and lovely it was too!

We had some great conversations about language and writing including the (relative) importance of grammar/rules, and the (absolute) importance of using the written word to help you express your take on the world and what’s going on in your life.

R borrowed a book from our library and hopes to join us next session.

There were some poetic contributions from J and H – see below.

We also created a short ‘collaborative’ poem using some words offered by guests and volunteers.

 

Collaborative poem:

Life can be terrifying

But I like the company here

It helps me to smile

I like breakfast and dinners here

Yummy!

 

The night of the hibernator – a poem by J

It was a foggy night

Under the sickly yellow light

The kind of night

To give an old hedgehog

The blues

 

The streets were empty, cold

And bare

Not a sound was in the air

But the tolling of a lonely

Churchyard bell

 

The hibernator ate his pea soup

While the others had a knees up

The quiet streets

Were empty, cold and bare

The bear scratched himself

And growled

Too woo went the little owl

And the clock struck three

In the market square

 

The hibernator went to

The window

Hearing leaves rustling in the street

Below

And saw the insomniac

Staring at the town map

Some routine tourist information

Had caused profound, immense revelation

A little red arrow announcing ‘You are here.’

 

The hibernator yawned, went back to bed

The insomniac scratched his head

Around the crack of dawn

The tired twosome were snoring

And a new day was busy

Being born

 

A poem by H

Why do I lose everybody?

Why do I always make a fool of myself?

Why is there no solution?

Why did I break his heart?

Why do I go round in pointless circles?

Why can we not do anything for ourselves?

Why are we lost?

Why do I keep letting God down?

Please help me to survive and not just exist!

Help me get over him!

Help us to stop hurting you!

Give us a purpose!

Help me not to keep feeling rejected!

Help me not to be trapped in thoughts!

Help us not to play games with people!

Help me to be satisfied with your tenderness!

Help us heal the world!

Lord, have mercy! Give us your love!

Lord, let me adore you and not leave your light ever again!

Help me to make sense of you giving us full life but expecting sacrifice!

Help me understand others!

Fill my emptiness!

Bless everyone who loved me!

Heal those who didn’t love me!

Bless You my Father, Friend and Consoler!

 

My hometown is nobody’s home town – a poem by J

Take any place

Who would call it hometown?

Where people live on the streets

Like sheep.

Unwashed,

Unwatched,

Unfolded,

Desperate, Distracted

Fuelled by fixes

The years rolling by like clouds

Lost sheep

With no shepherd

Waking up in my town

Your town

Anybody’s

Hometown

Is everybody’s business.

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A Poem by a Stranger

 

Doorway

Don’t remember me as you last saw me.

I was feeling down, rough; useful life past

and the present cold, hard, edgy. You see

 

you gave me food, clean clothes, the will to last

another dark, deep night. A tense, sorry sight,

drink, drugs a desperate high to move it fast.

 

Dawn arrives, feeling crap get in a fight.

Hit, kicked, shit upon then struggle down to

find a friend. Help at hand providing light

 

at the end of my tunnel… What would I do

if you weren’t there to run to? Help me

please – listen with compassion. Thank you.

Anonymous October 2016

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Writing group October 2016

National Poetry Day – 6th October: the perfect day to restart our Doorway writing group! We had a quiet but sincere and productive session. Using a few visual prompts, we discussed and doodled a few random poem ideas. J worked on some great song lyrics which he is hoping to take along to some local folk clubs soon. Talking about the therapy of channelling your emotions and experiences through writing, and of allowing time for reading too, we launched our little writing group library: starting with a selection of quick reads, short novels and short story collections. Fun, fruitful times ahead! Looking forward to 3rd November already!
Just to close, some last-minute, random ramblings on a (rapidly chosen) random username:
deweverdream
deweverdare
deweverwish
youdidntcare
dewevercry
crashingnotcoping
dewevertry
trustingandhoping
deweverseem
notasyouare
deweverdream
dreamscangofar
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Adieu, adieu, adieu.

To you, and you and you.

When I started writing this, my last official Doorway Writing Group blog, I was in the throes of moving and was surrounded by removal boxes and piles of bed linen and blankets. And I was so tired! All that packing and cleaning! I could have slept for a week.  I never thought I would be ready. And when I came to look for the poems I wanted to feature in the blog—horror of horrors—I couldn’t find them. I was in despair. This had never happened before and I became convinced they had somehow been packed up with all the rest of my life.

Well, a few weeks later and I am relieved to report that the move went pretty smoothly and I found the poems—just where I’d put them in my laptop case. So now this blog can see the light of day and I can sign off, late but with everything present and correct. I am glad to report my last writing group was its usual interesting self. Not hugely productive but with a feeling that everything is simmering away ready to come to the boil. Most of our joint attentions lately have been taken up with preparing an anthology of all the poems and lyrics we have produced. It’s coming along, slowly but tenaciously, and I’m hoping will be ready later this year (September??) Watch this space.

 

Here are some recent poems from J and one from the enigmatic Z.

 

Sleeping Out

Pause the night!

Make the sun rise!

 

Senses pinched

By bone-penetrating-

Cold-breath-fogged

Stillness.

 

Shut-down humanity slumbers

In silence

Curtains drawn tightly against the cold

The night surprises; voices in doorways

tyres screeching; the passing of sirens.

 

But we’ve been here before

Just never thought I’d be back again

Me and the midnight minstrel

Pacing the streets

While the moon

Glides among the frozen stars

We are waiting for the first

Grey wash of dawn.

by J

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living on the Side of the Road

It’s a hard type of living, living on the

side of the road.

In the town or the country

living on the side of the road

nobody knows me, I’ve got no place to call my own.

 

Walking along just my dog and me

following footsteps just my dog and me

sharing the load and company.

 

Don’t know where I’m going

Can’t remember where I’ve been

but we must be going somewhere

some place I’ve never seen.

 

Walking along just my dog and me

following footsteps just my dog and me

sharing the load and company.

by J

 

 

Kings of Atlantis

Palm trees swaying in a hurricane

Reeds whispering in the Sargasso Sea

Tropical sunsets and the Bermuda Triangle

Nobody is missing the Kings of Atlantis.

 

Persecuted, the pilgrims flee their homes

Shivering children quiver in the unknown

Before the boat capsizes they lift their gaze

Before the unseeing eyes of the Kings of Atlantis

 

Still I hear that you made it home

To a seaweed crown, a cold basalt throne

Making a connection with the floor below

Which shifting groans, the song of Atlantis.

 

The coastlines crumble while the tides decide

Predict a landslide

For the Kings of Atlantis.

by J

This poem, The Kings of Atlantis, was written as a response to the murder of the MP Jo Cox. It has been suggested that the perpetrator carried out this senseless killing because he believed in the ideology of ‘Britain for the British’, a conception based on a myth, not unlike the stories of the drowned island of Atlantis or the Bermuda Triangle. The poem weaves these myths with the realty of the plight of refugees fleeing conflict in over-crowded, unseaworthy boats.

 

Arrival

I saw Lyonesse today

with my own eyes

Lyonesse out there

breaking the horizon

 

In dappled light

under wing under cloud

in plain sight

Lyonesse

 

setting this loose

wording the way

letting me live

Lyonesse today

 

You were waiting

out at sea

watching there

Lyonesse for me

for me

by Z

A mythic lost world also inspired this poem. Lyonesse is the name of a drowned world off of Land’s End, and the writer and poet Thomas Hardy used it in his writing as his name for Cornwall (as he used ‘Wessex’ for the area of the West Country his novels are set in). If you have the inclination check out Sylvia Plath’s poem, Lyonesse. It is a much more sober work that makes an acute commentary on collective mythologies, not unlike J’s Kings of Atlantis poem.

Although I have left Doorway I am pleased and relieved the writing group will carry on. In the autumn it will have a new facilitator who I am sure will give it the renewed impetus that it needs. So, three cheers for Doorway Volunteers! Three cheers for Doorway’s Staff (so they don’t feel left out). And three cheers for Doorway guests who are so inspired and inspirational.

 

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Doorway Annual Review 2015 – 2016

The front page of this year’s Annual Review shows a word cloud created by members of the public who follow the Doorway Facebook page. They were asked to describe our work in one word…

Doorway Annual Review Word Cloud

Click below to download the pdf file:-

Doorway Annual Review 2016

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The Doorway Football Team play in the Kandu Kicks Euro 2016 Tournament

Sunday 10th July 2016 – Kandu Kicks does Euro 2016

Doorway is England for the day!

It’s mid-July and today is a huge sporting day – Wimbledon Men’s Final, British Grand Prix, Euro 2016 final, Tour De France and the Kandu Kicks Euro 2016 Football Tournament!

Eight teams are entered for the great showdown at Stanley Park and everyone’s excited to be here. Well, nearly everyone. The weather is pretty grim with a cold wind and showers being the order of the day. It looks like the British summer is not to the liking of our Iberian chums and Spain are not here! Can’t say I blame them – Sangria on the Costa-del-somewhere_or_other is probably keeping them warm …..

Kandu Kicks Euro 2016 Football Tournament (4)

Competition format is that each team plays every other team in a 7 minute match and the 4 teams with the best record go through to the semi-finals. Our first game was due to be against Spain so we get a bye in the first round of matches. The rejigged fixture list also means that we play all our matches on pitch 1 which is near the entrance to the complex and has some shelter so that the small but hardy bunch of Doorway supporters can keep out of the rain while cheering the lads on!

Germany 1 – 1 England
Our first match gets off to slightly dodgy start and we are strangely silent – not helping each other out enough. After 3 minutes we find our voice and range and Peck scores to put is in the driving seat. Germany press hard and only some smart work by Connor in goal keeps us ahead. Sadly he gets a little too keen to get to the ball and brings down an opponent. Germany tuck the penalty away and the last 2 minutes of see-saw action is goalless so we take a point each.

England 0 – 1 France
This was a bit of a scrappy affair and we were a little at sea defensively. France didn’t seem able to take advantage though and things were fairly even up to the fifth minute when we had 1 failed clearance too many and France finally found a way to get the ball in the net. We didn’t threaten them enough and the result was probably about right.

Iceland 0 – 0 England
A very capable Iceland team (sound familiar, eh?) gave us a lot of problems and exerted a lot of pressure on us but the defensive play was much better this time. Everyone worked hard to get a result and we managed a very creditable scoreless draw. Better than the pampered prima…. err, perhaps not – can’t afford to be sued.

England 0 – 2 Northern Ireland
Our opponents are very quickly into their stride showing good control and movement and after just 1 minute they take the lead. We’re working very hard to get back into the match but they have the edge and after 4 minutes increase their lead. The rest of the game was fairly even but we didn’t get much of a chance to score.

Wales 1 – 0 England
A fairly even contest at the start but Wales eventually start to take the upper hand and it’s only some stout defending and the good work of Connor in goal that’s keeping us in it. Things take a bad turn when a thumping drive hits the bar only to bounce out onto Connor’s leg and then back into the net. We tried very hard to recover the situation in the last couple of minutes but we didn’t look like scoring. A cruel result.

England 1 – 1 Ireland
Our last match and we are starting to play better. Pressing well from the start we take the lead when Guy finds a way through their defence and tucks the ball into the net. A topsy-turvy game continues to move from end to end and we’re holding on well until little more than a minute from the end when a lapse in concentration gives them a man over in attack and they equalise.

Drew 3 and lost 3 so we’re not in the knock-out stages.

In the semi-finals (now playing 10 minute matches) Ireland played an entertaining 2 – 2 draw against Northern Ireland with Northern Ireland winning the penalty shoot-out. Wales found Iceland too strong, eventually losing 0 – 3.

The final was played in fully committed fashion between Iceland and Northern Ireland. Iceland had lost their scoring touch and Northern Ireland ran out 3-0 winners and deserved to lift the trophy – again! The same group of players won last year’s tournament playing as Real Madrid. That’s a target for next year – beat this group.

A good day for all our Doorway players who put in a huge effort and didn’t let the wind and rain get them down so let us say a big “well done” to the lads:-

Connor, Dave, Guy, Jordan, Kev, Lee, Martin, Parky, Peck

Kandu Kicks Euro 2016 Football Tournament (3)

(The only injury on the day was to your roving reporter! During the warm-ups before the matches balls were being blown around by the wind and I gently kicked a few back to their owners. I got too enthusiastic at one point and tried to put my laces through one and now have a thigh strain! Should’ve warmed up properly before doing that! No fool like an old fool….. )

With huge thanks to Roland for writing the article and to Martin for the photos !

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“I’m Only Doing This For One Night”

2016-01-23 19.57.12

On Saturday 23rd January, Doorway SleepOut 2016 took place in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Chippenham, 2 years after the previous one, and the 6th such event. The event was very successful, with around £10,000 being raised for Doorway funds. 34 people, including some Doorway guests, slept out overnight in and under variations of cardboard boxes, sleeping bags, tarpaulins and bits of plastic. The weather was much milder than  expected, but considerably wetter and windier. The SleepOut started with a service in the Church, and local World Music choir Lingmara performed (beautifully) during this and then in the Hall before the SleepOut began. As also in 2014, BBC Antiques Roadshow’s Marc Allum then read a ghost story to get people properly in the mood for sleeping in a graveyard…….

Lingmara, conducted by Tony Barby

Lingmara, conducted by Tony Barby

Marc Allum reading a ghost story

Marc Allum reading a ghost story

Here are words from some of the participants:

Beforehand:

“I was thinking about what it means to be without a home, what it is to sleep rough on a regular basis, every night. And the conversation in my head soon became a riot, so I had to stop there. It’s just not acceptable – there should be no-one without a home in this day and age unless it’s personal choice. When I’m in my cardboard box somewhere out there tonight, my thoughts will be: “Thank God I’m not the only one in the graveyard, thank God there are people outside making sure that I’m safe. Thank God I have a home to go to. And Thank God that there are people who care” [Mary]

I struggled at first to determine whether it was a good thing to do or not a good thing to do.  I felt it might be patronising homeless people, but it isn’t. It’s supporting them, and about getting the word out that it’s a good thing to recognise that people are out there in the wet almost every day of the year, and don’t have the home comforts. I’ve got a nice bed to go back to tomorrow morning, a lot of people haven’t got that. [Mark]

2016-01-23 22.50.03

“I felt it might be patronising homeless people, but it isn’t. It’s supporting them”

I do give to charity, but actually, putting your hand in your pocket and contributing is easy. Actually giving up your time, or conquering a physical challenge I find more what I’m interested in. So being able to come out here, and spend the night in the cold, I think it’s a good idea. I think anything that raises the issue, and that gets people thinking about what it’s actually like to be on the streets – I can’t think of anything more horrifying, frankly. [Brian]

I’ve done this several times, actually. What is interesting is it becomes a bit of fun, but then the reality when you’re actually in the box, is that it’s not fun. And it never is fun. Because these people are homeless. And they haven’t nice warm homes to go to.  But you have to have that frivolity to get through. The good thing is everybody supports it and does it. But what about the homeless rough sleepers  in the summer months, in Spring, every day?  [Mary]

2016-01-23 22.50.30

We’re not giving up that much – we’ve got toilet facilities, we’ve got a nice hall here, tea and coffee and food, we’ve got people looking out for our health and safety, bacon sarnies in the morning. So I don’t want anybody to feel too sorry for us. [Brian]

I realise that I’m very lucky to have a job and a home, a roof over my head. And there are a lot of people at the moment. especially now., who are doing this overnight. And I just feel very very lucky that I’ve got what I’ve got, and it’s time I put something in to help other people to get themselves back on their feet. [Phil]

“to be on the streets – I can’t think of anything more horrifying”

What preparations have you made?

None apart from wearing far too many layers. I’ve got a box. I haven’t got a 3-storey detached home like some people out here. I’ve got a box that is already quite wet. [Mark]

I have a box I can fit in this time, which I didn’t have last time. And I’ve waterproofed my box, too, so that’s good. I’m all fully prepared. [Amy]

I’ve bivvied in the mountains before now, but nothing like this. I mean, in the mountains I’ve bivvied in bivvy bags, and you just dealt with it, so having to put up with cardboard boxes and plastic bags and things – I’ll just have to deal with it [Phil]

2016-01-23 22.43.44

In the morning:

Trying to get the shelter up was hard work, but we had a bit of help. We needed a third hand to hold stuff down. I think we were quite cosy, so it made it a bit easier really. It was more the rain coming in that I was a bit worried about, but we managed to keep dry. Even though the tarpaulin came off the end, and we had to put it back. It gave us a bit of an insight into what other people have to put up with, and made us realise how lucky we are. [Sharon, with son William]

I really enjoyed it. Apart from the rain. And my box fell apart! [Liz]

” I will seriously NOT consider doing it again”

People that weren’t taking part that walked through, it’s amazing how invisible you become out there. There’s all of these little shelters out there, and you’ve got people who blatantly don’t even see you. [Sharon]

It went very well! A little bit of rain, but nothing that made the night bad or anything like that, nice and cosy. And it opened your eyes to the experience that people have every day, and they lead their lives by it, you know? And a night like it is totally different to living your life like it, so you get some respect for what we do have, and you need to be more grateful for it, and help out those who are needier than we are. [Richard]

2016-01-23 22.50.03

It was alright, we got through it, didn’t we? We’re lucky, we only do it for one night. Dozed off now and again…..It was a bit wet, and a bit windy. And it wasn’t cold, which was very lucky considering what it was like the other weekend. Of course, SWEP kicks in when it’s very cold, but not when it’s very wet. We were very aware of that with our clients… very frustrating it is, that there’s so little we can do to help them. We’ve been cut back, but we still do as much as we can. [Liz and Desna of Wiltshire Citizens Advice]

It was alright, actually. I was out on the streets for about six months. It wasn’t through the winter, luckily enough. But I’ve stayed out in colder weathers. Yeah, it was enjoyable, and for a good cause, that’s the main thing. [Lee]

2016-01-23 22.42.51

“We were prepared for the cold, but not really the wet. And so unfortunately I got a bit wet. Which was when I came out by the fire. I am drying out now. I’m a bit cold but I’m alright. But you two fared better, didn’t you?” “Yes, I slept well, my shelter stayed alright. More a blanket than a shelter in the end, but that’s kind of alright. It worked, it was relatively waterproof” “We said we would do it again, but we’ll  learn from that and get some more tarpaulin. More tarpaulin, less cardboard. Or bigger cardboard. More thought into the construction. It wasn’t the most comfortable of nights. But I found myself laying there thinking “I’m only doing this for one night”.” “Exactly – we can go back to our own beds tonight, can’t we? Unlike the people that we’re doing it for. And they probably haven’t got layers and layers of thermals on, either.”[Kevin, Tracey and Kieran]

“it’s amazing how invisible you become out there”

It went well, but there was a bit of a flaw with the design of my waterproof, and I got absolutely drenched from the elbows up within 10 minutes of being in the box. Some of the rain must have got under the polythene, and the little flap on the polythene box moved when I moved, and suddenly I had a wet shower. But it was a really good experience, because it just shows what it’s like. I thought I was completely safe and dry for the night, and everything got soaked. And it just does  show you a little bit. Especially when you’re just trying to settle down afterwards and ignore that – because I was quite warm, but I was still pretty damp. So I now have more empathy – the thought of having to do this, night after night, it would be horrific. Also, to have you guys there, just knowing that we’re absolutely safe, whatever, makes a huge difference, because you are pretty vulnerable when you’re squidged in a box – you can’t defend yourself if someone decided to come and kick your box or whatever. [Imogen]

2016-01-23 22.48.44

Certainly had moments of reflection as the night went on. And, from a personal point of view, thinking about family members, who are now in different circumstances – huge, huge relief, but both still very vulnerable. You don’t find yourself in that kind of position overnight and you don’t come out of it overnight. Waking this morning feeling really knackered, really puts perspective on how it would be, and how bloody long the day would be ahead, and then thinking how relentless that would be if you can’t see an end to it. To have a degree of hopelessness I think, would just be crushing. [Anna]

” a night like it is totally different to living your life like it”

It was awful. I had a bad night, lack of sleep, and  ended up with my head out of the box because I felt very claustrophobic. It’s strange – it’s the wrong way round of course, one shouldn’t be claustrophobic when one is outside, but I did, I felt very claustrophobic. The box was slowly collapsing – it went from a cube to a flat diamond. But I didn’t get wet, and I slept…..my sleeping was perfect in the last hour, which is always the way – I got some solid sleep in about  the last hour. I will seriously NOT consider doing it again.  [Mark]

Even if you’ve got somewhere that’s absolute squalor, that’s still somewhere to sleep, and there’s a lot of people that don’t. [Gareth]

2016-01-23 22.55.38

The write-up from the Gazette and Herald is here.

Thanks to everybody who helped towards the success of this event – the ‘sleepers’, the organisers and stewards, the cooks, the singers, the St John’s, Marc, the Church for letting us use the Church, Hall and Churchyard, and many many others. The SleepOut certainly achieved its twin aims of raising both money and awareness. And the bacon sandwiches in stotty bread in the morning were very welcome indeed!

2016-01-24 06.47.06-2

“It’s just not acceptable – there should be no-one without a home in this day and age”

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