A week in the life of Iris Outreach

A typical, busy week in the life of Iris Outreach - though this one does have more cake than usual!

by Mark Williams, Outreach project facilitator

Monday 4 June It's the start of a busy week but we manage to fit in a meeting with Maria and Menaka at Women Connect First. We’re in the process of filling the last couple of slots in the Big Lottery project that has supported Iris Outreach's community short films over the past three years, and I’m hoping to have as diverse a selection of films as possible by the time we finish. Women Connect First is a charity that empowers BAME women and includes free classes in areas such as language skills and IT as well as volunteering opportunities. As always at the beginning of a new project, we discuss who would be willing to speak on camera about the dynamics of being BAME and LGBT - an important first step! Tuesday 5 June Today is a big day, as this evening we’re screening the premiere of “Cake!” made with Birchgrove WI, plus the programme of short LGBT films they’ve selected from the Iris back catalogue - we call this their 'festival'. But before that I’m meeting with our head of marketing Daisy to discuss how we will market our Outreach work in the future, to maximise the number of people getting to see the LGBT+ stories we’ve filmed. I also need to prepare for filming on Thursday in Penarth and next week in Llandudno and catch up with my emails! With the day job sorted, I head in to town early to meet WI members and prepare the BAFTA bar at Cineworld for the screening. I arrive to find work already well underway, with cake stands at the ready and posters going up. The buzz in the bar is amazing, with WI volunteers, Cineworld staff and Team Iris all working together. The show starts with introductions from Kate Foley, former president of Birchgrove WI, then the screening of “Zebra” opens the programme of 5 short films. As the audience of 130 people (from as far afield as Yorkshire; Manchester; Surrey; Essex and Cardiff!), begin to spill out we hear some great responses to the diverse programme created by the group, before everyone dived in to the cakes! And then to the premiere! Cate Hopkins, who directed Cake! - her first ever directing experience - introduces the film, and we all hold our breath to find out how this audience of mainly WI members will respond. From the start it's exactly the sort of reaction we had hoped for! Then as the Q&A gets underway, we can tell the group members are delighted too - perfect! Lots of positive comments and questions come in from the crowd, including how people can access the film after the evening, which results in a challenge to attendees to arrange screening of Cake! during the UK national WI conference at the Motorpoint in Cardiff the next day. (Although this didn’t happen, we heard that Cake! did get a mention in the closing address.) Wednesday 6 June I meet with Michelle & Fiona from the British Deaf Association together with their BSL interpreter, to discuss the Iris in the Community project and opportunity to work with them. Very interesting meeting and, by the end of the meeting, they already have 3 people signed up to work with us. Fingers crossed this one goes ahead! Thursday 7 June Today we film our oldest participant so far at 94! Together with 5 other residents at Ty Dewi Sant Care Home in Penarth all were happy to tell their stories from days when being gay was illegal, and the impact on them of family members coming out. We have some great footage, so now it’s over to Nathaniel to edit the interviews into a fantastic film.     Friday 8 June I take time to catch up with all the positive feedback from the screening of Cake! and finalise plans for two other festivals coming up with Outreach participants in Newcastle Emlyn and Wrexham. Then it's time for the first Iris Prize festival team meeting of 2018 to hear all the exciting plans for this year’s festival (and that all stays secret - for now!)   Find out more about Iris Outreach and watch many of the short films produced with schools, community groups and workplaces over on YouTube.