The Stories that Make Us - Working With Women Survivors

This November, we’re starting a new project with the brilliant Bulgarian Emprove Foundation, who work with women survivors of domestic abuse.

The project is called The Stories that Make Us: Creative writing with women survivors — finding new models for creative intervention. Over six weeks between November and December this year, we’ll be working with a group of women survivors, exploring how storytelling can be used to build community and bring about both individual and social transformation.

The project will lead to the following

  • an overarching communication campaign, combining face-to-face events with capacity-building measures
  • the production of an illustrated series of story-cards with text written by women survivors
  • the development of a first of its kind creative writing curriculum for domestic violence survivors in Bulgaria.
  • An exhibition of artworks based on the stories.
  • A big launch event for the exhibition, with readings of the stories from actors, in both Bulgarian and English.

The stories shared in the group will become the basis for a series of beautiful, inspiring artist-illustrated cards with stories written by survivors in both English and Bulgarian, to be published in 2022. The cards will come as a boxed set and be available in bookshops across Bulgaria.

We’re hugely excited by this project, which has been a long time in the making. In Bulgaria, as elsewhere, domestic abuse and domestic violence are still huge issues. Working with the brilliant Emprove Foundation, with this project we are aiming to contribute to public awareness of these issues, both in Bulgaria and regionally. And we are wanting to build more robust, supportive communities among survivors.

The project is part-funded by the British Embassy, Sofia, and we are very grateful for their support. The course is timed to tie in with the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Data from the previous year and a half has shown that since the beginning of Covid-19, domestic violence and abuse has intensified across the world. UN Women refer to this as a “Shadow Pandemic”.

Our aim with this collaboration is to increase awareness of domestic abuse here in Bulgaria, to empower the women survivors who take part, and to train Emprove staff in techniques in facilitating storytelling sessions, so that they can develop this work further within the Bulgarian context.

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