Untold Stories: Workshops

Manchester City of Literature project
Celebrating 75 years of the NHS and the Windrush contribution. It all started with a call-out for African Caribbean NHS workers (past and present), their families and communities to tell our stories.

Manchester City of Literature Community Champion Jackie Bailey wanted to hear from members of the African Caribbean community who have practical experience of working in the NHS, to represent the voices and experiences of the wide range of workers (and their families and communities) that make up the NHS. This included chefs, doctors, drivers, nurses, paramedics, physiotherapists, security, support workers and all other roles. Award-winning writers and experts in their fields delivered workshops in a number of creative forms across the whole world of literature, allowing participants to shape how they tell their untold stories as members of Caribbean communities in Manchester who have worked in, or have family members that have contributed to the National Health Service.

The collated Windrush NHS Stories will be shared in June 2023 as part of the Manchester Festival of Libraries. Later in 2023, they will be featured as part of an exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library: Untold Stories of the NHS. Untold Stories will celebrate the contribution of workers in a range of roles and from diverse backgrounds to the delivery of care and to the NHS Story.


Shirley, the author of She Wrote Her Own Eulogy whose mother was part of the Windrush generation, opened with a stunning poem and accompanying visual written and produced by Ellouise Bridge, which explores the Windrush story. It set the tone for a deeply insightful and purposeful workshop where Shirley introduced the participants to freewriting, word banks and some key elements of writing autobiographical poems. The participants explored their experiences as descendants of NHS workers through verse, sharing memories of their parents’ working nightshifts, the uniforms and sisterhood that existed between nurses on the wards.


This workshop centred on the power of memory as a tool for wellbeing. Jackie introduced participants to journaling as a way of exploring their emotional responses to lived experiences. Jackie encouraged participants to reflect on their memories of NHS service and think about how that contribution has or hasn’t been recognised in wider conversations about the value of the NHS.

Some of the participants spoke passionately about the pressures to perform that Windrush generation NHS workers felt being the ‘other’, how they were often overlooked from promotions in favour of less experienced British-born colleagues and the impact this has on their sense of recognition of the contribution Windrush workers made to the NHS.


Award-Winning Memoir Writer and Mentor, Tarnya Coley is a real exponent of the power of memoir writing. Tarnya reflected on her own personal experiences that led her to write Open Doors, her debut memoir, and how liberating it felt to share the story with the world. She shared how the participants can tap into their own unique stories by discussing the key elements of memoir writing such as transparency, intrigue and emotional depth, encouraging the participants to believe that their stories are worth sharing.

By the end of the workshop, the participants were able to give their memoirs a title and synopsis and they had completed the first page of their NHS themed memoir.


Keisha Thompson, CEO/AD of Contact Theatre and an award-winning writer, delivered a phenomenal workshop on the power of scriptwriting. Keisha introduced the participants to extracts from her own work, including her solo show ‘Man on the Moon’, to illustrate how the everyday can become theatrical and otherworldly.

Across the text she shared, the personhood of Black people really shone through. Keisha showed the participants how themes of mental health, colonialism, identity, religion, and father/daughter relationships can all be authentically present in a short script. Keisha also spoke about how scriptwriting allows the writer to abstract facts to make the scenes more striking or simply to protect the writer and guard their truth.


Sefton and Reece led a conversation about the participants’ feelings of all the sacrifices that were made by Windrush generation NHS workers and their families. They spoke about the sisterhood that existed amongst nurses, the families that they left behind at home whilst working night shifts, and the feeling of being undervalued by management and overlooked for promotions.

We arrived at a conclusion; we’d like the world to see and feel how they felt. Sefton suggested we adapt the classic ‘Do You Hear What I hear’ by Harry Simeone, telling the story of Windrush nurses in the NHS.

‘Our Unseen Service and Sacrifices’

“For generations we’ve provided patient care/
Not just needles, we were combing hair/
Do you see what I see?
Nursing strangers whilst our loved ones were back home/
Hoisting patients from their sick beds on our own/
Do you see what I see?”


Micah Yongo delivered the last workshop about the power of storytelling and the often blurred lines between fantasy and reality.

Micah challenged the participants by using a story game to work secretly in groups and share true stories with each other. The group then had the task of either sharing one of their true stories with the rest of the group, or sharing an entirely made up story. It helped participants to see that they are already storytellers.

Micah drew on stories written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to demonstrate how, as writers, we can create a world that is vivid and alive with detail. He set the group a task of writing a fantasy short story that reflected on the themes of Windrush but that was rooted in truth and lived experiences.

Micah has written a piece reflecting on leading this workshop that you can read here.


Project Ethos ID: 49034

About Jackie Bailey

Jackie Bailey, founder of BEE You! Personal Development Ltd, delivers transformational coaching, workshops, seminars and retreats. Supporting individuals, groups, teams and organisations with clarity of purpose, values, vision building and alignment is at the heart of her work. A lover of literature and a keen advocate of arts for wellbeing, Jackie is a Manchester City of Literature (UNESCO) Community Champion. In 2021-22 Jackie championed and co-designed a programme sharing a world of literature that embraced spoken word, music, journaling, memoir writing, history and poetry; all connected to enhancing wellbeing and personal development. An esteemed life coach and creative practitioner, Jackie is passionate about supporting people to improve their wellbeing by using a range of personal development and self-care tools, including journaling.

Jackie is also the Director of J Bailey Consulting Limited (JBCL) providing management consultancy services to a range of organisations across the private, public, voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. Jackie has worked extensively with NHS organisations. Consultancy has included stakeholder involvement; service improvement; quality assurance; performance management; strategy & policy development; diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI); staff & leadership development. Jackie has worked operationally & strategically, across a range of issues impacting diverse people. She has vast experience of working inclusively & effectively engaging people with positive & improved outcomes across stakeholder groups.