Hi Finsbury Park,
As you always do at the Islington Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Women’s Welfare Group – we got a huge welcome from Gul and the group when we visited them at the community centre in Durham Road earlier this summer. We drank tea – we ate sweets – we laughed – we danced – and we spoke to Gul, the group co-founder, and Seher, a member of the group, who reflected the importance of the arts and sharing stories – particularly the stories from those that may haven’t had the opportunity to share them before…
#MyCreativeHub… GUL: “We set up thirty years ago, nearly. Thirty years ago, there wasn’t a lot of stuff around here in Finsbury Park. I started the group with a friend of mine who’s a social worker, and we said let’s go and visit women at their homes and call people up to invite them along to the centre. When we started, we had ten women attend. Some of the women who attended said my husband doesn’t want me to come to the centre, but when they went home, they explained to their husbands that they get help with filling in forms, that we interpret for them and help with reading letters from the hospital and things like that.
The group’s growing now – I’m really proud. As well as helping fill-out forms, reading letters and interpreting, we have lots of projects and short courses too. Everyone just turns up. They meet each other and talk to each other, and they make tea, and they make coffee, and they cook. It’s all word of mouth – one woman tells her friend, who tells her friend.
We do creative things too – like handicrafts – we did The Loop @ Andover project on the Andover Estate – we arrange flowers…we do lots of things actually! The women at the group love to share their stories. We did a project with All Change, a community arts organisation based here in Islington. We worked with a photographer called Leticia Valverdes and she asked the women about their stories – about when they came to London, about their family, about their grandchildren and about their own story. They really enjoyed it with All Change. We published another book with a documentary maker recently too. It’s very important for the community to get to share their stories. The women at the group never had the opportunity before the project with All Change. They were really excited. Everyone said ‘I have my book and everyone’s read my story’.”
#MyCreativeHub… SEHER: “I loved taking the photographs the most – my pictures are in the book. When I was taking them I was saying to everyone ‘Let’s go mad!’ – or something like that. I was screaming! It was so much fun. We all brought our handmade things and took photographs of them.
We do Turkish dancing too – it’s not belly dance, just folk dance. I learnt from people who were always dancing around the area I used to live in. I love dancing. I feel so comfortable when I dance. When I get angry, I don’t want to break anything in the house, I just want to dance! I start my music and I dance!”
For more information about the group contact Gul on 07905 744 756.