Moniack Mhor runs a programme of creative writing activity for young people living in the Highlands and beyond] . At the centre, we offer residential courses for young writers, with established tutors providing inspirational workshops and one-to-one tutorials to fire young peoples’ imaginations and hone their literary tools. As well as benefiting from the creative writing aspects of the course, young people make new friends, work together, cook together and get a taste of independent living, gaining great writing skills for self-expression and much more.
Our outreach work takes us into schools, libraries and community centres, supporting the delivery of high-quality workshops and one-to-one mentoring on young people’s doorsteps. We also target our efforts, making sure we reach those who often don’t have easy access to the artform.
Much of our delivery is in partnership, working with other creative learning bodies to provide rich, multi-art form, collaborative experiences.
WORDS is our writing café for young people. The tutor leads the group through writing exercises and group discussion to help build young people’s confidence and help them find their creative voice.
If you are a young writer, a teacher interested in a school visit, a support worker, parent or have any other interest in activity for young people please contact Eilidh Smith, Programme Manager, on email@example.com
Creative and Active Lives Programme
Our Creative and Active Lives programme began in 2018 specifically to offer a range of opportunities to young people who are care experienced. It is fully funded until 2021 by the generous support of the Life Changes Trust.
Anybody who is aged between 14 and 26 and is care experienced (ie looked after in a residential setting, or at home, or has been in the past) can be supported to access creative opportunities, build on existing skills or learn new ones. We can offer residential courses at Moniack Mhor, taster sessions across Scotland, one to one mentoring by experienced tutors, and other forms of support such as opportunities through our leadership programme. Day attendance at Moniack Mhor activities can also be arranged where possible, if preferred.
Young people can contact us directly, or can be referred by social workers, teachers or any other support agencies. So if you (or someone you know) are care experienced and have an interest in creative activities, or just fancy trying something new and fun, please contact Andy Nixseaman, Project Coordinator, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s an overview of some of our programme highlights to date:
Run in collaboration with Who Cares? Scotland, Journeys in the North was a recurring part of our programme during the first two years. It started in June 2018 with a workshop at Moniack Mhor. Young people came together to explore their identities in poetry, music and multi-media installation, tutored by poet Jen Hadfield, singer songwriter Boo Hewerdine and visual artist Graeme Roger, with support from sound engineer Steve Bell on production.
“I am genuine. I am awesome. I have courage.” ‘Going Wild Care Collective’, Journeys in the North CD
In October the group returned to transform their writing and music into a CD. They worked with Steve Bull to remix their spoken words, lyrics and music, and with photographer and graphic designer Fraser MacDonald to produce a CD cover and packaging. The end result was a professional CD that showcases their work. You can listen to it online HERE.
“I feel through the soles of my feet the paths other creatures have taken.” ‘Going Wild Care Collective’, Journeys in the North CD
The theme of Identity was explored further in 2018 in a residential workshop led by writers Kevin MacNeil and Emma Beeby (the first female to write comic strip Judge Dredd for AD2000!). Several young people visited Moniack Mhor for the first time, joining others who’d taken part in the Journeys project. As well as exploring their creative writing skills, they made new friendships and enjoyed the Moniack Mhor experience.
In December 2018, we enjoyed a Christmas dinner and planning day with young people at Moniack Mhor. We listened to some great ideas for activities in the coming year, which resulted in us revisiting the theme of photography in April 2019. Two days were spent on our Photography and Animation workshop learning from Graeme Roger and animator Rhys Campbell how to take better shots or animations on either digital cameras or smart phones.
Jen Hadfield also revisited us early in 2019 to run a two-day workshop Ways with Words – helping young women to build on their creative writing skills, either in poetry or prose.
Also by request, in April 2019 we went to see songwriting tutor Boo Hewerdine perform with Eddi Reader at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. This was a first-time concert experience for some, with the added bonus of meeting up with Boo afterwards.
Boo returned to join us all at Moniack Mhor in August with poet and comedian Kate Fox for a three-day residential poetry and songwriting workshop, Words and Music.
“I was proud when I wrote a song and a poem inspired by the workshops.”
Another partnership with Who Cares? Scotland brought playwright and performer Chris Thorpe to Moniack Mhor for a two-day residential. Chris worked with a group of young people from the Inverness area to develop a piece of participation theatre which has since been used to give a powerful message to social work teams about some of the challenges of being in care.
In October 2019, our three-day residential Making your Words Work was led by Kevin MacNeil and poet Roseanne Watt. It focused on developing creative writing skills in a range of genres, particularly poetry and fiction. We were very pleased that a group of three came from Orkney and that several ‘new faces’ engaged with our project.
“I love it here.”
Other activity we have run as part of our Creative and Active Lives programme includes working in local secondary schools to offer sessions in poetry, creative writing, street art and animation. Dingwall Academy kindly let students use an interior wall in the school to produce a stunning mural!
We have also been able to offer 1 to 1 mentoring and support (including online during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020). Skills that young people have been developing techniques in through mentoring include fiction, songwriting, hip-hop poetry and graphic design. We hope that this support will allow them to keep gaining confidence to take their creative interests further.
In March 2020 we were due to hold a fully-booked rap, hip-hop and spoken word three-day residential at Moniack Mhor. Unfortunately this had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. We hope to be able to offer this again in the future.
Remember, if you feel inspired to take part or just want to find out more about our Creative and Active Lives programme, please contact Andy Nixseaman, Project Coordinator, on email@example.com.
“I have gained the power to support other young people.” ‘Going Wild Care Collective’, Journeys in the North CD