Wendy French works in a freelance capacity with adults with mental health problems,visually impaired adults and adults suffering from dysphasia.
She has vast experience of working in schools to promote poetry and creative writing.
She has worked for eighteen years with adolescents who have been admitted to psychiatric hospitals. She believes in the healing power of writing and reading poetry.
She has two pamphlets published by tall-lighthouse press, Sky over Bedlam and We Have A Little Sister And She Hath No breasts. Her first full length poetry collection, Splintering the Dark,was published by Rockingham Press in January 2005.
Her short play for voices, Hobby Horse, has been performed in venues round the South East.
Wendy French has worked as a head teacher and teacher for many years at the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School. I have been fortunate to have been her colleague for 9 years.
Wendy is an inspirational teacher and although she is no longer on the permanent school staff she continues to run creative writing sessions, on a weekly basis, with the adolescent group.
Whilst head teacher Wendy instigated a number of arts-based projects which included: an interpretation of ?The Rime of the Ancient Mariner? using music, drama and art; a series of poetry workshops which resulted in the publication of an anthology of young people?s work entitled ?Dogbark.? Wendy also ran workshops which resulted in drama productions performed to staff and parents.
Wendy has the ability to motivate and her gifts have been used with many groups of troubled and troubling young people. Her very wide experience of children and young people with mental health problems brings sensitivity, understanding and adaptability to the group?s needs. As a poet herself she has a very real awareness of the power of expression. She has helped many struggling adolescents to find a voice through writing and drama and continues to do so during her excellent weekly workshops.
Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital School
I have been asked to supply a reference on behalf of Wendy French, which I have great pleasure in doing.
I have been working with Wendy since October 2003 when I engaged her as Mole Valley Poet Laureate. Her role as Laureate was to establish contact with community and health care providers in the District and to offer their client groups the opportunity to take part in creative writing workshops and projects. This has been both successful and rewarding for the participants and organisations concerned. To date, Wendy has facilitated regular workshops with a group of trainee GP's, a group of adults with mental health issues (Clarendon House, NHS day centre), a group of people with visual impairment (Surrey Association for Visual Impairment) and a group of adults who have had strokes (Dyscover).
Wendy's poetry and well-being workshops have proved so successful that other local authorities in Surrey are interested in taking part in a wider arts and health research and evaluation project involving literature development in a health care context. This has led us to apply for a grant from the Arts Council for £16,000 which has been successful. Wendy's strong commitment to the project throughout its implementation has been instrumental in helping us to get this grant which has increased the profile of the project not just in Surrey but in the region as a whole.
I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Wendy to you. She is a pleasure to work with, is highly professional and reliable and is very responsive to the needs of the people who take part in her workshops. She is an extremely effective facilitator who is able to adapt calmly and sensitively to diverse and sometimes challenging situations.
Arts Development Officer
Mole Valley District Council
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