Shaun Jackson
Stoneham Housing (Womens Refuge)


The aims of the Project in the main, are to accommodate women and children fleeing domestic violence, to offer advice on welfare benefits and the legal framework by which they can protect themselves from further violence. However, our greatest tasks lean towards empowering our women to take back the controls within their lives which have been stripped from them, by their partners. In order to achieve this, we are constantly looking for opportunities for women to experience personal growth, to strengthen their levels of self confidence and esteem.


Recently, following discussions with Nicola Epps, Art Development Manager for Mendip District Council, we were fortunate enough to have acquired Mr. Shaun Jackson for a three week pilot to introduce poetry to our women's group. The objective being to provide a medium for the group to express their emotions on paper, be they happy, sad, angry, confusion, conflicting, to be able to freely express, it was felt to be a way of release for them. We planned the sessions to happen over a three week period but in fact, this stretched to four. The work which has been produced by the six women who took part in the workshops has been amazing. The bond within the group for each other and their sharing of experiences through their poems has been so encouraging to see. The women want the work to be published and made available through the Women's Aid network to encourage other victims of violence to write.

One of the participants in particular has not been able to express her anger before and has now found a way through poetry which has aided her confidence to evolve to such a degree that she has enrolled in a computer and word processing class to learn the skills to take her own writing seriously. Mr. Jackson has great faith in her ability and for the first time in her life, she is experiencing a feeling of capability which has never been self realised. To add to this, her ability to deal with the complex legal requirements in order to free herself and her children of a former abusive husband is growing daily.

Other members of the group have also experienced growth in their own self belief. Whilst in abusive relationships, these women were subjected to years of being told how worthless they were, how little they had to offer the world, how incapable they were. Poetry and prose has been able to unlock positive progression in every single workshop participant.

-Mel Stimpson, Project Manager for the Women's Refuge




This project was very different from other poetry projects that I have worked on and definitely the most challenging and fulfilling. To be involved, as a male, in a situation where all members of my group were women who had suffered violence from their male partners seemed to me to be somewhat daunting. But to my surprise, I was eventually accepted and then trusted, even to the extent that they would talk to me and tell me their experiences. Something they have probably never spoken about with a man before.

When this trust and bond had formed the release of emotion, frustration, anger and confusion was released and writing started to flow, with the women themselves saying that they felt so much better having been able, perhaps for the first time, to release everything that was pent up inside in a constructive and cohesive way i.e. through poetry. I feel that this project has proven itself by enabling my group to write creatively and has given them the confidence to feel that they are valued, and that their work is original, relevant and could be helpful to others in the same situation.




Innocent Miss, full of sweetness and bliss,

Goodness without any flaws.

He's the light of her life, she'll put up with the strife

Because it is him she adores.


What utter crap, you need a good slap.

Did you think I'd forgive you forever.

You're a weak minded bore, and now I feel sure

With my words your heart I will sever.


Don't look at me incredulously,

How much pain can one person bear?

Is that fear in your eyes, well what a surprise,

Watch out, its your soul that I'll snare.


I'll fight you, I'll smite you, I'll sneak up and bite you

You've woken the demon within.

I'll maime you, I'll shame you, I don't want to tame you,

Just claim revenge for your sin.


O, stop evil's touch, I like it too much

Such venom for all to see.

What will I do next, you're looking perplexed

It's the death of the Angel in me.

This poem was written by one of the women at the refuge where Shaun Jackson was Poet in Residence.


Young Poets Network