A few months ago, I heard about Carib2UK, an organization that uses Drama Therapy to help young children in the UK and in the Caribbean. I wanted to learn more, so I contacted the founder, Janeen Wilson. Thankfully, she took time from her busy schedule to provide me with information about her inspiration behind Carib2UK and more about the organizations work.
What is Carib2UK?
Carib2UK is a social enterprise that works with children and young people from the UK and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Our aim is to use the performing arts and drama therapy to enable children and young people to fulfill their potential.
Drama Therapy is a unique form of psychotherapy that works with a wide variety of client groups. It uses all elements of the performing arts to facilitate a safe environment for clients to engage in activities to effect psychological, emotional and social changes. The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context. Stories, myths, playtexts, puppetry, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions that a Drama Therapist may use. These enable the client to explore confusing, difficult and painful life experiences through an indirect approach.
All of our projects are funded by private/public sponsorship, fundraising events and donations.
What was your inspiration for Carib2UK?
I founded Carib2UK in September 2006. I have been involved in the performing arts for nearly 23 years. This started with school plays, church performances, community theatre and eventually joining the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT). The decision to study drama at university rather than at drama school opened the world of outreach work. As part of my studies I took a module called “Theatre in the Community.” Not quite knowing what I was letting myself in for, our group decided to deliver our workshop in a prison with a group of ‘lifers’ (inmates serving life sentences). From then you might say I was ‘hooked’. I saw the transformative abilities of drama, the ability to turn a tense & angry group of prisoners into storytellers, dancers and poets.
Having finished my BA in modern drama studies I decided to take my work abroad. I traveled to Tobago and developed performing arts workshops within small communities, schools and youth groups. I worked alongside carnival groups both there and when I returned to London. Carib2UK was born. I was inspired by the shared culture that we as a people have whether based in the Caribbean or in London. I was intrigued by the idea of sharing an identity through performance and doing this through the carnival arts was an area that I became interested in. I developed dance and drumming workshops with the assistance of artists from Trinidad & Tobago. My knowledge increased due to working alongside great organizations such as the Creative Learning Circuit and the Caribbean Youth Drama Project amongst others.
On my return, I also started doing work with young offenders, those with emotional & behavioral difficulties and those with mental health issues. I saw that creative writing became a vehicle for change, the dance became an expression of pain and their characters became their way to speak to the world and make others understand. During this period I decided to study for an MA in Drama Therapy. I was seeing first-hand what could be achieved but I needed a deeper understanding before I could facilitate the stories that I was hearing.
In 2012, I became a Drama therapist and a new chapter was added to Carib2UK. Our therapeutic work now allows us to deliver sessions that facilitate emotional, social and personal change. It allows us to work with the thousands of children and young people in our UK based and Caribbean Community that are suffering from mental health issues, trauma caused by physical, sexual & emotional abuse, learning disabilities and a wide range of other issues. We represent our islands in so many different ways, but it is important to remember that when the carnival ends, the lights fade and the beaches are a distant memory, there is a reality behind the holiday beauty that we can’t ignore.
What one achievement can you tell us about since the organization has started?
I am most proud of the fact that through funding, sponsorship and donations we are able to provide our services free of charge to clients’ and their families.
How was the launch for you?
The Carib2UK launch night & fundraiser took place in January and it seems like years ago as so much has happened since. The event left me in awe at two things. First, the greatness of peoples kindness and generosity. Every artist donated their time and creativity at no cost to the Carib2UK project. Individuals & businesses donated raffle prizes. My mother bought, prepared and sold all the food that was available on the night. Carib2UK is truly blessed…
Secondly, I have learned that the power of social networking is not to be underestimated. Before December 2012, when preparation began in earnest, I had a mere individual Facebook account from which I created a Carib2UK page. ‘ FB Likes’, offers of support, venue helpers and performers flooded in. We were inundated with those wanting to support the great work that Carib2UK deliver, and hope to continue delivering, for years to come. Through Twitter, we generated nearly 20 performers from all over London….so many that we had to create a waiting list for the next event. Carib2UK is truly blessed…..
What are your plans for future?
The future for Carib2UK is bright. We pray daily for our work to be placed where it is most needed. We aim to continue delivering performing arts workshops in the UK as well as Drama Therapy sessions. Due to the extraordinary amount raised at the Launch night we were able to offer a 15 week intervention to the London based Primary school. This is triple the amount of time we expected to receive funding for so that is great! We have therefore had to reschedule the Barbados project for September 2013. We are working alongside the Barbados Youth Development team and we hope to work with the juvenile liaison scheme to engage as many young people as we can within our short time there. Our ultimate goal is for these projects to gain momentum and be offered all over the CARICOM.
We will be at the Caribbean Plaza Live Family Fun Day with more information about our projects and we are planning another Carib2UK event for April 2013 so watch this space…
While we are thankful for the support we have already received, these projects can’t continue without the help from funders and donations. Our Barbados Project starts in September 2013 and we are reaching out for assistance both financially and in kind. If you, or anyone you know, is based in Barbados who might want to volunteer with Carib2UK then please get in touch on: firstname.lastname@example.org
If there are any teachers, youth group leaders or government ministers from Barbados or elsewhere in the CARICOM that feels their school or organization could benefit from our work then please get in contact with us on:email@example.com