Celebrating Hidden Tales

October 2017 saw Hidden Tales, our powerful and inspiring 20-month partnership project with the Petrus Community, culminate in a unique digital art trail around Rochdale Town Centre and an unforgettable sell-out performance and film screening event at Touchstones Arts Centre.  The short films, which have been made as part of the project, are now viewable online at

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Launched in May 2016, with the aim of creating a voice for the profound narratives of Petrus service-users and volunteers; 18 months ago, our Creative Producer, Sara Domville, set-out on a journey to uncover the hidden lives, stories and experiences of Rochdale’s homeless community.

An intensive six-month programme followed, in which Sara worked closely with 52 participants in phase one of the project. Weekly workshops took place and slowly but surely stories and experiences began to be uncovered.

With a focus on art and creativity, participants explored digital story telling through writing, drama, animation, photography and video.  Mobile phone filmmaking workshops also took place with Manchester Metropolitan University and other opportunities, such as ‘Walk, Talk, and Record’, focused on the Rochdale landscape and sharing personal experiences of the local area.

The stories created through phase one were showcased as part of the Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival at a Trailblazer event in October 2016. Audience feedback from the sold-out event was phenomenal, with comments including, “Amazing, so moving and inspirational” and “A wonderful event, very powerful.”

The juice for the second phase of the project flowed through a six-month creative writing workshop programme at The Vibe in Rochdale, and the production of eight video portraits, which explored the different challenges faced by the Petrus community.

Sara worked closely with the participants to develop their stories, and once narratives were evolved, a creative team, including award-winning filmmaker Mat Johns, designer Mark Brown and poet Martin Stannage, were brought on board to help bring the stories to life for an audience.

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After six-months of creative process and development, in October 2017, the Hidden Tales Digital Art Trail was launched around Rochdale Town Centre.  Revealing eight personal and inspiring stories of change and survival, the art trail of eight artworks, each featured a poem, a portrait and a QR code, linking to a series of breath taking short films telling each of the participants’ stories.

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On display in public spaces including Touchstones Art Centre, Rochdale Town Hall and Rochdale Pioneers Museum, Hidden Tales had a strong presence across the town centre, and succeeded in creating a visual platform for Rochdale’s homeless community to speak up and speak out.

With experiences of mental health, addiction and recovery being shared, Hidden Tales began to make an impact and spark conversation around important social issues. Along with the stories resonating and connecting with audiences, the media also responded, and participant stories were re-told in the press, including The Big Issue, Northern Soul, BBC Radio Manchester, Manchester Evening News and the Daily Mirror.

Commenting on the trail, Phil Foster, Deputy Coordinator at Petrus Community, said, “These stories are touching and honest portrayals of people overcoming challenges and show the importance of understanding and concern within our society.”. 

Sara said, “The stories told through the artworks are funny, sad and heart-warming. They find the best in people in challenging times, and by giving you a glimpse of humanity’s finest attributes – faith, strength, kindness and honesty – they stop you in your tracks.”

Along with the digital art trail, participants from the second phase of the project were given the opportunity to share their creative writing through a live performance of poetry and spoken word at Touchstones Art Centre on 17th October 2017, which also featured screenings of the eight short films.

Hosted by Mancunian poet, Mike Garry, in a sold-out venue, the event featured an inspiring and unique programme, and saw many of the participants get on stage and share their work in front of an audience for the first-time. The event demonstrated the power of performance and the ability of the arts to shine the spotlight on social issues.

James WhitlowHidden Tales event
Cilla Baynes, CAN’S Creative Director said: “The event was enjoyable and entertaining but crucially, it also made you think, and provided a reminder of the importance of speaking up and speaking out about issues which matter and affect so many of us.”

Over 20 months, Hidden Tales has given a voice to people, who otherwise would not have been heard. It has also seen over 100 people, who have survived life’s most challenging times, develop their creativity and skills, boost their self-confidence and self-esteem, and make new friends and connections, through a unique participatory arts programme.

Looking back and reflecting on the project, Sara said, “Creative expression can be transformative and Hidden Tales is proof of that. Fuelled by the challenges, beauty and richness of their lives, the project participants have embraced the arts to tell their story, and in doing so have grown as people and developed their self-confidence. I have huge respect for each and every one of them for having the strength to talk so openly and share their personal life experiences. Everyone has something to say and something to contribute, that’s what we are trying to show with this project.”

Phil Foster, Deputy Coordinator at Petrus, added, “We are absolutely delighted to have been involved in the Hidden Tales project, especially for our service users who really enjoyed taking part. Due to the nature of our work, we often hear the stories that nobody else hears and so it really is fantastic that Hidden Tales helped bring them to a wider audience.”

Each of the participants who took part in Hidden Tales had a different story to tell and together they have reminded us - in participant Andrew’s words - thatSociety tells everyone to put your blinkers on and walk your walk but there’s no actual number to all the good things that people are doing behind the scenes. Everyone has something to offer, everyone has a story and you never know unless you speak to them. By talking and telling each other our stories, we can be medicine for each other.”

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Find out more about Andrew’s story by watching his film at, where each of the incredibly moving films, which have been part of Hidden Tales are available to view online.

Hidden Tales has been developed by Community Arts North West in partnership with the Petrus Community, a charity working with people who are homeless or at risk across Rochdale, Rossendale and Oldham.

Thank you to everyone who has supported and been involved in Hidden Tales, with special thanks to the project participants for sharing their stories: Roger Kirby, Sister Noel, Gail Cowpe, Tanzeem Mahmood, Martin Tobin, Jimmy Weinowski, Andrew McConville, Emmanuel Bajiiji, James Whitlow, Charlotte Brackenbury, Karen Porter, Martin Tobin, Frank Kelly and Steven Bradley.

Supported by Arts Council England and The Granada Foundation.


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Rochdale’s homeless community speak up and out

People from Rochdale’s homeless community took to the stage at Touchstones on Tuesday 17 October, and performed to a packed-out venue to share their personal stories through poetry, music and a series of short films that can be viewed online at

Taking place as part of the Rochdale Literature & Ideas Festival and hosted by Mancunian poet, Mike Garry, the event featured an inspiring and unique programme, which told real-life stories of strength, survival and self-discovery in life’s most challenging times.

The event was a culmination of Hidden Tales, a unique digital arts and performance project, in which Community Arts North West (CAN), has collaborated and worked with service-users and volunteers from Petrus, a charity working with people who are homeless or at risk in Rochdale, Rosendale and Oldham.

CAN’s Creative producer, Sara Domville said: “Over the last 18 months, I’ve seen the participants of Hidden Tales project grow as people and develop their confidence as artists. To see them get up on stage and perform so incredibly well in front of so many people was just brilliant and very rewarding. On behalf of Community Arts North West, I’m thankful to each and every one of them for having the strength to talk so openly and share their personal life experiences.”

With stories shared about mental health, addiction and recovery, the Hidden Tales event raised awareness and understanding around a range of important social issues, which are often misconstrued and misunderstood.

Sara Domville continues: “The event was enjoyable and entertaining but crucially, it also made you think, and provided a reminder of the importance of speaking up and speaking out about issues which matter and affect so many of us.”

The series of short-films screened at the event, which tell each of the Hidden Tales stories can be viewed online at The films can also be seen as part of the Hidden Tales Digital Art Trail live around Rochdale Town Centre until 28th October. The trail includes eight unmissable artworks, which are on display in public spaces, and feature a poem, a portrait and a QR code to the participants’ films.

Hidden Tales is supported by Arts Council England and The Granada Foundation



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Hidden Tales

Hidden Tales; Untold Stories from Rochdale's Petrus Community

Watch the films and experience Hidden Tales online, here:

Launching on Tuesday 3rd October and running until Saturday 28th October, the Hidden Tales arts trail reveals eight personal and inspiring stories of change and survival. The unmissable artworks, which are on display in public spaces around the town centre, each feature a poem, a portrait and a QR code, which link to a series of breath taking short films about addiction, mental illness, hope and resilience.

In the creation of the artworks, Petrus service users and volunteers shared their stories and worked closely with CAN’s creative team including Creative Producer, Sara Domville, award-winning filmmaker Mat Johns and poet Martin Stannage.  The result is a journey into eight remarkable real-life stories, which tug at the heart strings as well as inspire and make you smile.

Sara Domville, CAN Creative Producer, says: “Our partnership with Petrus is a long-standing one, so we’ve got to know many of the volunteers and people seeking their support very well, seeing many glimpses of humanity’s finest attributes – faith, strength, kindness, honesty - that stop you in your tracks. It was so important that ‘Hidden Tales’, in offering a platform for these stories to be told, did so on those terms, finding the best in people through challenging times. Placing the work outside a gallery space, making the videos available digitally, on-site in Rochdale and via mobile phone means that the sense of reality becomes intentionally acute.” 

Phil Foster, Deputy Coordinator at Petrus Community, said: “We are delighted to be taking part in the Hidden Tales project. These stories are touching and honest portrayals of people overcoming challenges and show the importance of understanding and concern within our society. We have worked closely with CAN to help give our service users and volunteers a platform to tell the world their stories and I hope that the people of Rochdale enjoy following the trail.”

The Hidden Tales digital art trail is free, no ticket required, and starts at Touchstones, Rochdale’s cultural centre, where visitors can pick up a map and follow the trail to find the rest of the artworks throughout the town centre, including the historic Town Hall, the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and the Pioneers Museum.

Along with the digital arts trail, there will be a Live Performance and Film Screenings of Hidden Tales at The Vibe, Rochdale on Tuesday 17th October. The afternoon of raw talent, spoken word, music and film, will be hosted by Mancunian wordsmith, Mike Garry, and takes place as part of the Rochdale Literature Festival.  Tickets are £3 and can be booked here.

Take a look inside the stories that feature in the Hidden Tales project and watch our trailer:

Find out more about Hidden Tales at:

Principal Music Leader Opportunity


We are seeking an experienced Music Leader, who is passionate about encouraging the musicality and music-making of children, to lead on our Youth Music funded Kámoši Music-Making programme starting in September 2017-July 2018.

This new, exciting post will deliver a comprehensive music offer for Eastern European Romani heritage and other local children living in Leigh (Wigan Borough). The project aims to build on and develop the children’s music skills, natural talent and enthusiasm.

The leader will have responsibility for planning and leading (largely) term-time based, group music-making activities for 35 Saturday-morning sessions, and at least 5+ public performances over the course of the year.

We are looking for a passionate and enthusiastic Music Leader with a talent/flair for working with and inspiring the musicality of children aged 5-12 years. You will need to be musically versatile and have the following essential skills and experiences:

  • Music-Proficiency in at least two of the following: Piano/keyboard, voice, percussion, string, brass or wind instrument.
  • Proficiency in composition and/or music arrangement.
  • Ability to facilitate music-making across a wide genre of music making styles; including the following key influences: Eastern-European Folk, Balkan, Gypsy-Jazz, would be desirable, as well as Urban and popular genres.
  • Ability to facilitate high-quality music education sessions within an informal community context.
  • Proven successful experience of running sustained music-projects, workshops and activities with children.
  • Co-ordinating the contributions of guest Music Artists employed on the project, as part of the sessional work.
  • Ability to work as part of a mixed media arts team.
  • Ability to plan schemes of work with a clear sense of progression.

This post will be subject to DBS Clearance procedures.

Music Leader Freelance Fee: £5,280

If you are interested in applying  please complete:

  • Application form
  • Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form
  • Where relevant, web links to examples of your previous work (unfortunately we are not able to return CDs or other hard copies of work submitted to us)

Please email the above to : or through the post to:
Community Arts North West
1st Floor
Green Fish Resource Centre
46-50 Oldham Street
M4 1LE

Closing date for applications: 5pm, Monday 7th August 2017

Interviews will be held on Thursday 17th August 2017 and

You will be informed of the outcome to your interview by Friday 18th August 2017

We positively welcome applications from disabled people and all sectors of the community.

CAN is an equal opportunities employer. Charity registration no. 277135

Please download the following forms:

Principal Music Leader Job Description and Person Spec 2017

Principle Music Leader Application Form 2017

Equal_Opps_Monitoring_Form 2017

Kámoši Project Overview


NEW Job Ad Logos

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We are delighted at CAN to know that we have another 4 years of ACE NPO investment for 2018-22. A big thank you to all the communities, artists, partners and audiences across the region and beyond who have helped make CAN what it is.  A big thanks to ACE for their continued support.

More information about the future programme coming soon ..

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