French festival inspires passion for poetry

Thursday, 6 September, 2018

Residents at Cabrini House have discovered a passion for poetry after mixing with international artists at an arts and literary festival in France.
The week-long trip formed part of the GALA (Gentle Art, Living Art) European Project, which is being led by the Diagrama Foundation. 
Three residents from Cabrini House – Diagrama’s home for adults with learning disabilities - were invited to take part and join participants from France, Spain, Italy, Romania, Belgium, Ireland and Madeira for a packed programme of art and cultural workshops and activities. 
The week included a visit to a local castle where residents were given a chance to help make soap, learn about bee keeping and join in with the catering. 
Diagrama support worker Helen Styles said: “This was an amazing opportunity for our residents to enjoy so many new experiences – we even visited an oriental garden where everyone learned about the flora of Japan and were given a chance to sketch some of the beautiful scenery. 
“We were also able to discuss different ways of working and learn new creative skills such as mosaic, new painting techniques, poetry and spoken word.” 
The GALA project aims to empower vulnerable people through the arts by sharing knowledge and ideas with different project partners from across Europe. 
Helen added: “Our residents discovered a real passion for poetry and creating mosaics while we were there - and these are two of many activities we learned about which we will be continuing to help all our residents develop the skills for at Cabrini House.” 
The programme started at 9.30 each morning and finished late each night. Most of the workshops were in the village of Voulmentin, Quartier de Saint Clementin, in Nouvelle Aquitaine.
The festival also gave staff the opportunity to meet experts from other countries who are with vulnerable people and to share ways of working.
Helen added: “There were tears on the last day as no-one wanted to go home - they’d all had such an amazing time and seen and learnt so much.”
The GALA project will culminate in an exhibition of artwork from groups of vulnerable people from across Europe, which will be held at Rochester Cathedral next year. Funded by the Erasmus Plus Programme (European Lifelong Learning, Adult Education measures) the project also has partners from four other European countries: Groep Ubuntu (Belgium), Association ProVita (Romania), Fundacion Diagrama (Spain), l’Art et la Maniere (France).
Cabrini House is based in Orpington, Kent. More information on Cabrini House is available here.