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Working creatively for the community
Friday 30th March 2018 @ 12:53 by Anna Fletcher
Community Events Mossley & Saddleworth News

An Ashton woman is bringing communities together through creativity.

Sara Benaissa runs a monthly creative writing workshop in Saddleworth and a quarterly creative meet in Ashton.

She owns Fraiche Ink, her own freelance writing company and writes both commercially and creatively.

Sara said: “About a year after becoming a freelancer, I was looking for other writers in the area. I’m often in Uppermill and saw a writer’s group advertised at the Style and Salvaged café. When I enquired about it they said the writer running it had dropped out and asked me if I would like to run it instead.”

Sara turned the meet into a workshop where writers of any level could come along and collaborate.

She said: “I didn’t want it to be me telling writers what to do because I feel like most writers have their own voice and know what to do, they just need some guidance from others or to be part of a writing community.

“I was nervous at first because I had never run anything like this before, but what I really love about the group is how supportive it is. I get regulars coming that I now consider friends and every month we read our stuff which at first was scary but now everyone seems to enjoy it and we give proactive comments to help people improve.”

There are a variety of levels in attendance and Sara is clear that even if you have never written a thing in your life you are more than welcome to come along.

She added: “I think everyone feels nervous when they push their boundaries and try to improve, but people coming along have said how much it has improved not only their writing skills, but also their confidence level. It has made it really worthwhile for everyone and people enjoy it for the community as well as the writing.”

Community is very important to Sara and she believes groups like these play a really important part in cohesion.

She explained: “I think community groups are integral because they help people to feel less isolated. They foster a community spirit and it can give someone a place to belong if they don’t already have that in their lives. I think there can be a lack of cultural investment in groups or social events in economically difficult times so when individuals go out there and create those things it becomes incredibly important, it is about making your town a better place to live.

“Especially in the North there are so many amazing writers, artists and musicians that have come out of hardship and you sometimes find that that is when their voice is strongest so it is really important to keep fostering creativity even when it is difficult.”

As part of her passion for Manchester, Sara is currently collaborating with photographer Cecile Coullet bringing together her own poetry with photographs of the city.

Sara said: “We are hoping to make it into a coffee table book as well as an exhibit. It is all about Manchester and the urban environment. Sharing one of my poems with the creative writing workshop actually helped me feel more confident in following the project through.

“Cecile and I are combining our skills and our passion. I am a proud Mancunian and love to write about urbanism and what that means for the collective human mindset. This allows me write about what makes the city click and what makes Manchester different to other cities and we want it to be accessible for everyone.”

Sara also runs Casual Creatives, a quarterly meet-up taking place at Browton’s Bottle Shop in Ashton-under-Lyne.

She said: “This is for anyone who is creative or enjoys creativity and it is really down-to-earth. It is just like-minded people meeting for a drink and I am running it with Selina McCann, who is also local to the area. It is just a great group and gives more options closer to home so people don’t feel like they always have to go to Manchester for groups like this.”

The next writer’s workshop takes place tomorrow (Sat 31st Mar) at Style and Salvaged in Uppermill from 2.30-4pm. You can just turn up or join the Facebook group, ‘March Uppermill Writing Workshop.’

The next meet-up for Casual Creatives is at Browton’s Bottle Shop on 19th April from 6-9pm and you can find out more by following them on Twitter @cctameside

Find out more about Sara’s work at www.fraicheink.com or follow her on Twitter @fraicheink and Instagram @sara_jasmine