Following the Grenfell Fire in June 2017 Adele Sullivan was compelled to respond to the backlash survivors of the fire were experiencing online. A brief conversation with her Write Club Committee colleague Cinnomen McGuigan about what could be done led to the idea of compiling an anthology of personal essays and poetry with the aim to dispel the myths about Social Housing Tenants. Having both grown up in Social Housing, Cinnomen in Manchester and Adele in Northamptonshire, both were aware that while life wasn’t necessarily rosy, it wasn’t as portrayed on programmes like Benefits Street or How to get a Council House; a depiction that became reality through the backlash against the Grenfell tenants.
Adele put a call out on Facebook, unsure of whether there would be a response and from there the book took shape, with a Question and Answer session added to the essays and poetry. Most of the contributors and all the volunteers that put the book together are Open University students from across the country. Cinnomen oversaw the project and Adele, with Jennifer Goodheart-Smith, Write Club member, edited. The project is the first of what will hopefully be a series of anthologies featuring Write Club members. Write Club will be launching their second anthology Generations within the next few weeks and the much anticipated The Gift later this year. The other side of the Fence: Real Social Housing Tenants is available on Amazon for £2.99.
The decision to launch an anthology series is a natural step forward in Write Club's future. Write Club want to establish a strong brand building on the success of their newsletters that will showcase the enormous talent that their members have, combining poetry, fiction and non-fiction. "Not everyone wants to write fiction. The poets featured in 'Fence' demonstrate very powerfully that you don't have to be a journalist to express yourself, particuarly in relation to issues such as class, social housing and prejudice" Adele explains. "And we have a bit more freedom with the books in terms of length and format. One contributor kept it short and sweet with no more than two words, and Rebecca wrote an extended essay about her life which was a wonderful read."
Write Club will be donating the proceeds from The other side of the fence: Real social housing tenants to Target, a housing charity that supports families in crisis and vulnerable people.