Towards the end of March 2020, I took a break from posting on my blog/SM. This was partly due to the pressures of trying to finish writing up my PhD thesis, pass my Viva exam, and find work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I was really fortunate to work with the amazing Junction Arts team again from April 2020-March 2021 (maternity cover), adapting programme delivery due to COVID-19 and successive lockdowns. Working closely (in a socially distanced way!) with colleagues and local partners, we (figured out how to use Zoom and) produced Year 2 of their three-year Heritage Lottery and People’s Postcode Lottery-funded digital STEAM project ‘This Girl Codes’ https://thisgirl.codes, and adapted the large-scale annual Bolsover Lantern Parade, which normally attracts an audience of around 5,000 people, to ‘Lighting the Way 2020’, which won the ‘Most Innovative Project Award’ at The Voluntary Sector Awards 2021.
During this time I also worked as a lead writer with the creative wellbeing programme WRAP (Writing, Reading and Pleasure) at Nottingham Trent University, led by the brilliant Dr Becky Cullen and fantastic student participants and volunteers.
In May 2021, I joined the inspiring Pedestrian team in Leicester in the role of arts project manager for six months (also maternity cover), delivering a participatory creative programme funded through Children in Need, engaging disadvantaged young people in arts activities, including asylum seekers, care leavers and food bank users. Then, in October, I moved to Nottingham Trent International College as a sessional tutor, teaching on their Foundation programmes in Arts, Design & Media, and Social Science.
I submitted my PhD thesis ‘Holding the Line: Contemporary Poetry of British Coastal Change’ in Spring 2021, and passed my Viva exam in April with minor corrections, graduating in December 2021 with a winter ceremony at Nottingham Trent’s beautiful University Hall. What a journey it’s been!
This just scrapes the surface of the past 21 months: the work, the worrying…the walks. Love and thanks to friends and colleagues in these challenging times. Best wishes for a positive 2022.