WILD has known more than 20,000 people since those early days in 1992; mums, dads, parents to be, children, children who are now parents, WILD grandchildren, carers, partners, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends.
We are so proud of the part we have played in their lives and they have played in ours.
There are many stories to be told and here we would like to share a few:
In August 2012, the floating art installation, 'Nowhere Island', was welcomed into Mevagissey in Cornwall, by gig rowers, musicians, and by young mums from WILD, who had grown food in their allotment (helped by Dick Strawbridge from the telly!) to make refreshments. The island had come from the arctic, and was part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Several WILD parents signed up to be 'citizens' of Nowhere Island, which was an exploration of democracy and the idea of a borderless state.
Liam became dad to Toby three years ago. Here he tells us about his experience:
“For some reason I always felt quite neglected at home. I kind of got into drinking at a young age, and smoking and stuff like that. Then as soon as I hit fifteen I ended up getting a criminal record just for stealing a car and doing stupid things. And then I got to a point in my life where I decided it just wasn’t worth it so I decided I was going to quit all of that. And I got back into it a little bit as I got older, but nothing serious, then as soon as my son was born I stopped it all, and I also quit smoking. I realised he was getting a lot more fast and active and I need to stay healthier.
I’m a full time carer for my mum now. It wasn’t always like that. Growing up as kids we used to go out and walk around, but her health got progressively worse – I believe it was when I was about 13 or 14. Mums always been on antipsychotics and would smell things and see things. But she got a shadow on her lung and doctors said she had like two years to live. And that hit me really deep in school, because losing my mum was my worst fear and I didn’t know how I would act emotionally because I am already emotionally distant. Like I can’t really cry and I don’t feel sad and I don’t feel much empathy towards people when they are sad, I’ve just always been like that.
I’ve always loved the thought of being a dad, and I love being a dad. As soon as you have a child your perspective on life is so so different. Everything changes so much.
I kind of went from having no responsibility to having a lot of responsibility, and that put a lot of stress on me, but I’ve always dealt with stressful situations really well. I’ve always been a fighter, I always will keep going through it.
During the pandemic I was really scared because I thought what does this mean for my son as he’s growing up. Because I’d seen how drastically it had changed everyone else’s lives, just normal day to day life. It felt hard to remember how it was beforehand.
I’ve never really had that support. I still get stressed to this day, like about parenting. Obviously I’m just trying to do my best, and I know what I can do, but there’s still things I don’t know how to do. And if people give me advice I can take it, but when they criticise me I think I’m just trying, and I’m not a professional when it comes to kids. I feel judged a lot, and people are really judgy, and I try to ignore it. But even say when I’m shopping and he’s crying, the looks people give you like you’re some kind of monster. My personal experience, I’m seen as the dumb parent and because I’m the dad I don’t have motherly instincts as mothers do. But in the same point, because im an actual dad, people are surprised like ‘he actually has a dad’ because there’s that stigma of men just leaving.
My biggest worry is probably his natural development. It’s hard when social workers and nursery come down on you and say he’s behind, and is there things going on at home. And I want to make sure he’s not going to be picked on by other kids because he’s slower and he didn’t get those chances. So that’s why I’ve been working so hard on development. I’ve been speaking to the doctor and trying to get him into speech therapy. But he’s such a happy guy as well, he’s always happy.
It’s crazy seeing him grow up. Just seeing a human grow before your eyes and seeing all his mannerisms and his learning, and it like baffles my brain going from something so small….and people don’t realise how fast it all goes having a kid. These three years have only felt like a year. And to see him going from not even being able to crawl to suddenly he’s running and mumbling and the odd word here and there and having a laugh with me. It’s really really weird!
Everything changes when you become a parent. You are doing more, but it’s making you grow as a person. You have got a more adult role, and instead of just winging it and living life as it is, you’ve got to plan ahead and think of things.”
"Everything changes when you become a parent"
In 2008, a group of WILD mums spent summer days at The Barns, Kneehigh theatre's rehearsal space on the Roseland peninsula - dancing, composing, singing, writing poetry, creating, and sharing stories with the Kneehigh team. Writer Anna-Maria Murphy turned their stories into Kneehigh's wonderful production, Don John, and our partnership working with Kneehigh and the theatre world began.
Over the next 13 years, we worked closely with Kneehigh; writing, theatre visits, workshops, dance, photography...a brilliant collaboration that only ended when Kneehigh closed their doors in 2021. We are forever grateful to the Kneehigh team for taking our work to a different creative space.