Time is write to read you our poems

TWO years ago Tracy Rennie was too shy to speak to the teachers at her sons' nursery school.

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Linda Christie and Tracy Rennie who now attend a weekly creative writing class at Castlemilk Family Learning Centre
Linda Christie and Tracy Rennie who now attend a weekly creative writing class at Castlemilk Family Learning Centre

But now, thanks to adult literacy and numeracy classes, she is preparing to read her own poetry at Glasgow's Aye Write! festival.

The mother-of-two, who missed most of her schooling due to illness, has now learned reading, arithmetic and poetry at the Castlemilk Family Learning Centre.

The 29-year-old said: "Our group started off as a literacy class run by the nursery to help the parents get together to brush up their skills.

"All our children are in school and it is getting more and more challenging because the kids are coming home with homework that they need our help with.

"We were given help with numbers and writing and our confidence just got better and better.

"Now we've moved on to a creative writing class and have been invited to perform our work at Aye Write! in April.

"We would never have believed we could do this."

Tracy is just one of 13,600 adult learners who took part in adult literacy and numeracy (ALN) classes across Glasgow last year.

More than 45 organisations delivered classes at 200 venues across the city, from Glasgow Women's Library in Berkeley Street to The Lodging House Mission in the East End.

Organised by Glasgow Life and many other organisations, the aim is to get adults confident in reading and numbers.

But Tracy's group in Castlemilk decided to take things one step further by using their new skills for creative writing.

Tracy, mum to sons Aaron, 9, and Christopher Galloway, 6, added: "We write about anything, from how you feel that day to things that are going on in your life.

"Sometimes we write in Japanese-style haiku or sonnets – we've learned all sorts of things.

"For me, it's really personal and helps me get my feelings out.

"I'm struggling at the thought of reading my poetry out at the Mitchell Library for Aye Write! just now, but I really, really want to do it.

"Public speaking is one thing, but this is standing up and revealing your feelings to people: it's quite an emotional thing."

Classes at Castlemilk Family Learning Centre are held once a week, but parents are also encouraged to drop into the centre whenever they feel they need support.

As well as literacy classes, the centre runs a host of other sessions aimed at helping families learn together. Yvonne Bell, child development team leader, said: "It can be quite hard to get new families involved in the projects we have going as people can be quite frightened about trying something new or committing to something different.

"We have a really good, established group in this area, and Tracy is a perfect example of what can be achieved. We also have three women who have started college.

"I think people can get caught up in their own wee community and not think about the wider picture, which is what we are trying to achieve here: to broaden people's horizons.

"Learning with your children is important and having your children see you achieve something is important."

For Tracy, improving her literacy skills was as much for her two boys as it was for her.

She said: "It's good for the children seeing their parents doing something and seeing their mum can do something brave as well as being a mum.

"Being a mum is really hard and it does get you down sometimes – you can feel isolated. But here you get to talk about it and support each other.

"A few of us didn't go to school. I missed school because of illness and didn't have any qualifications. Now I'm thinking about going to college.

"It's hard to admit you need help but this class has shown me everything I've missed out on over the years and I don't want to miss anything else."

Yvonne added: "Parents sometimes don't want to know us: they drop the kids off, heads down, and back out.

"Two years ago Tracy would have been like that.

"She wouldn't have spoken to anyone or got involved in anything, but now she's like a different person – and so are a lot of our parents."

The chairman of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said: "This range of programmes, classes and activities offer local parents, carers and their children a variety of ways to further their learning, develop their creative side or simply have fun.

"Glasgow Life is recognised for its contribution to big-city projects such as the Riverside Museum or the new Emirates Arena, which will be enjoyed by many thousands of people each year.

"But equally important is the work we do in small-scale groups in the very heart of communities throughout Glasgow, enabling citizens to flourish, be it in their personal, family, community or working lives."

n For more information about the Castlemilk Family Learning Centre call 0141 634 2007. To find out about ALN classes call Glasgow's Learning Helpline 0800 027 6402 or visit www.glasgowslearning.org.uk.

catriona.stewart@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Families

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