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Illuminations: Storied Accounts of Workforce Wellbeing at Warwick

About the Project

Starting with the idea of a Writing Circle, the project team commissioned writer, poet and educator George Ttoouli to design and try out a series of writing resources intended to prompt reflection on workplace wellbeing. The event was open to all staff with a student facing dimension to their work. In total twenty-five colleagues participated in the Writing Circle, which provided a valuable opportunity to reflect on some of the benefits of (and barriers to) active participation, as well as to explore the potential of writing as a tool for promoting wellbeing.

In the same way that student wellbeing is integral to engagement and learning, negative staff wellbeing can impact confidence, create feelings of isolation, disengagement and capacity to work, which in turn can result in burnout, poor mental health and absenteeism. When one part of the Warwick community hurts, so too do its constituent parts. This is central to the conception of student and staff wellbeing as interconnected.

Project Impact

Writing wellbeing resources were made available to staff and student in the Wellbeing Pedagogies Library.

Findings from the project were used to expand understanding of wellbeing, and what is shared and what is different for staff and students. The project remained committed to modelling an environment whereby all stakeholder groups feel more comfortable discussing wellbeing, feel confident that leaders are listening and recognise how university practices, processes and procedures are being designed with the wellbeing of their shared community in mind.

Writing Resources

Six writing circles took place in June 21.

A set of writing resources designed by George Ttoouli, were made available in the Wellbeing Pedagogies Library for all staff and students. The idea is to help find alternative ways to understand, explore and promote wellbeing. They fall into three categories, Writing Resources, Writing Prompts and Redrafting Prompts.

Wellbeing Blog

As a way of further encouraging and fostering writing wellbeing, and as an additional output of the project we also plan to produce a blog Writing Wellbeing: Finding the Words, in the Autumn Term. Exploring the themes of morale, resilience and motivation in the workplace, the aim is to connect the reader with the idea of writing wellbeing. The aim to build confidence in using writing as a tool for expressing and promoting a sense of wellbeing.

Learning Outcomes

The project utilised the process of creative writing as way of encouraging participation and active engagement on the subject of wellbeing in the Warwick community. Albeit in small ways it has begun a conversation that draws on the plurality of lived experience to stimulate dialogue around wellbeing and what this looks like at work. Findings from the project revealed more about the complexity in openly sharing experiences and or feelings associated with wellbeing at work, hence adapting the method of data collection as outlined above.

Project Team

Project Leads

Dr Elena RivaLink opens in a new window (IATL) Dr Elena RivaLink opens in a new window (IATL)

Project Team:

Raksha Gohel (Life Sciences Student); Nicholas Jackson (Economics/Mathematics); Lauren Schrock (WMG)

Project Collaborators:

George Ttoouli: George is a writer, editor and teacher based in Coventry. He has taught writing at both Coventry and Warwick universities, as well as in schools and communities in Coventry, Botswana, Singapore and India. His most recent poetry collection is from Animal Illicit, published by the Michael Marks 2020 Publishers' Award winning press Broken Sleep Books.

Moving forward

Writing wellbeing resources were made available for all staff and students in the Wellbeing Pedagogies Library.

Findings were presented to the Staff Wellbeing Strategy Group to inform the development and delivery of the University Warwick of Wellbeing Strategy (2020-2024) priorities and contribute to evidence for the THRIVE Workforce Wellbeing Charter.

The project also helped facilitate learning around Covid-19, in particular make recommendations as to work-place practices experienced during the pandemic that should be maintained or stopped according to their value in promoting workforce wellbeing.