By Dan Barron, Community Organiser
The Mowbray Musers are initially started as an in-person group in the Mowbray Gardens Library in February 2020. The aim was to form a group of friends would all sit and talk about creative writing, play some literature games, and show off their works in progress to friends for feedback. To allow people the opportunity to write in-between meetings, they planned to hold their meets, fortnightly at 12 noon on the first and third Tuesday of each month. The group were able to hold just two, in person meetings before the country went into lockdown.
This was a very new group, at the start of lockdown and we had several early phone calls with them in the initial weeks of lockdown, however the Musers group did not want to go online at first. Although RotherFed kept in regular contact with them, the group hit the pause button on their progression and many future meetings, maintaining that were keen to start, when they could meet in person. In the summer, knowing the library was not going to open again soon, Rob, a group member approached us. He now wanted to create an online group on Facebook but wanted to keep the group closed to other members of the public, so that the original attendees of those early sessions in February could take part. However, a month later Rob had had a change of heart again and wanted to open the group to others for people to show their creative works. After speaking with Rob about ways to start to engage others he liked the idea of a competition to advertise his creative writing group. Since Rob has a great interest in poems, we decided to host a poetry contest with a prize to engage with audiences.
RotherFed have been supporting Rob to get the Mowbray Musers group online, after initially creating the group on Facebook, I have contacted Rob again to speak about his page. Although Rob does not have any equipment to create posters, I have been liaising with Rob to create some posters. When Rob is happy with the poster, it is uploaded to the Mowbray Musers page. Most of the support I have been able to provide to Rob has been over the phone with this project or through social media.
So far, we have managed to run two competitions back to back. The first competition which was an unrestricted competition to write any style of poem they wanted to from the 28th September to the 12th October. The winner was judged by Bob (another group member) and me. We are currently running a Halloween competition the group now has 16 members join through these methods. The community has posted 10 creative art pieces that have been posted on to the online group from members from different backgrounds. The group are currently happy with the online group’s progress and are enjoying running the competitions.
As an organisation RotherFed have been supporting the Mowbray Musers throughout covid19 with monthly phone calls. This support consisted of checking on his wellbeing and if there was a way, we could support the Mowbray Musers. The group has been inactive until August and Robert have not had many problems other than being frustrated that he cannot get back to the Library. Rob did get involved in the RotherFed COVID Diaries project and had written some entries specifically for it to keep himself busy. When speaking with the group we have been able to speak about the guidance and what it means for the groups and the venues they use. Although it’s been frustrating for them, they now have an online presence which they can use to promote their group post COVID.