A former Bury College Public Services student has recently released an incredible book of poems on a wide range of issues, including mental health, grief, and the struggles people go through in life. Cheyanne Martin Barkess, 19, wrote her first book, One Journey Tells a Thousand Stories, over her last year at college, and has now published with Austin Macauley Publishers.

The former Thornleigh Salesian College student and her grandmother had always intended to write a book together, but her grandmother unfortunately passed away before they could fulfil this dream. Cheyanne has written the book in her grandmother’s memory, and dedicated it to her.

Cheyanne, from Bolton, also designed the book cover herself, and wrote her own blurb. She also has four further novels in the works, and is hoping to also get these published in the future. Cheyanne has achieved all this despite her dyslexia – she says she just “sees the book in her head”.

The poems, for Cheyanne, are a way to work through her emotions. She credited both the experience of writing the book, and the support she received while at College, for her growing confidence. Through being tasked with public speaking assignments, along with team-building exercises, Cheyanne was able to come out of her shell and grow as a person. She said, “the support from College staff didn’t just help me become who I am today, but a happier and better person.”

There are even a few poems based on her experiences at Bury College in the book. One is about Cheyanne’s experience with the National Citizen Service, NCS, where she visited Snowdon with classmates on a weeklong residential. As part of NCS, she also got involved in both local charities and the community. Cheyanne helped at Grundy Day Centre, raising money, running activities, and serving tea and coffee. One of her short stories is based on a conversation with a woman she met there.

Cheyanne is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of Salford, something she says she never would have done if not for how much she enjoyed writing her own book. After she has completed her studies, she is either going to continue developing her literary career, or join the Army, an ambition that was solidified by her Public Services studies. Cheyanne said that “the course itself was never boring”, and that she particularly enjoyed all the physical activity, especially the water-sports, and the visits from military staff. Simon Taylor, one of Cheyanne’s Public Services tutors, said “Cheyanne came here with lots of barriers to overcome, but she matured and grew over her time with us, and put lots of hard work into herself.”

The Bury College Public Services course develops an understanding of the practical and work-related skills needed to prepare for careers in a range of uniformed services, which include the Emergency Services, Armed Forces, Police Force, Fire Services and Armed Services.