Next up in my series of empowered people who were involved in the Leeds Piano Trail is Rachel Flint. I met Rachel just before lockdown, in March 2020, at the launch of And The Stones Fell Open, the anthology of poetry about poets, prophets and protesters, edited by Ian Harker, published as one of LCI’s creative projects committed to nourishing the arts in Leeds. Click here to purchase a copy. The poem Rachel read on that occasion, ‘Treasure’, sang the praise of her two carers, and I was privileged to meet one of her current carers and her mother, too, when I visited her in her home recently. Rachel proudly defines as being disabled, and reminded me that under the social model of disability, this term refers to the way society disenfranchises people who have different needs to the majority, more than to any perceived inadequacy on behalf of the people who may, as she does, use a wheelchair, or require other types of support to navigate through life’s hurdles.

Her model of empowerment is the Latin American concept of luchadora, a female warrior figure who, Rachel told me, reminded her of her favourite Bible story of David and Goliath. The luchadora wears a mask, and the one Rachel most covets has a cross on it – reflecting how her faith supports her. Rachel was bubbling over with enthusiasm and ideas, and I could have spent all day listening to her stories. When I asked her to say what empowerment meant for her, she was able to define it as being to do with other people, with making connections which transcend boundaries (physical and otherwise) which society may erect. Empowerment for her means being connected to the heart; sharing everything with all people, in an inclusive and loving way (which was very much the theme of her poem ‘Treasure.’) She enacts this through her involvement with many organisations and campaigns such as the ‘Changing Places’ bid to have proper access to appropriate public loos for people who need them in order to get out and about for any length of time. After mainstream education, she attended a specialist residential educational establishment to study journalism , creative writing and TV/Video production. She says she is hopeful for the future, because lockdown gave us an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we do and why we behave as we do.

Rachel has been writing poetry since she was seven, and uses it as a form of journaling, what she describes an ‘emotional unboxing.’ She has a long record of success already, having been twice runner up in the Leeds Peace Poetry Prize, and having had a poem printed on a bookmark through a project arranged by St Matthew’s Church, Chapel Allerton. She was drawn into the Leeds Piano Trail project by Becky from Leeds Citizens, and attended the workshops and performed there her poem, ‘You are the Spark.’ We talked about how the ‘spark’ represented the divine spark found in everyone, the creative power that enables us to express ourselves, the oneness which unifies people who may appear, on the surface, to be different to each other.

Here it is in full, for you to enjoy.

You are the spark

Lighting thousands of beacons

To guide others

Through the darkness.


You are the spark

Igniting passion

In the soul

Of a stranger.


You are the spark

That is dynamite to obstacles;

Turning injustice and prejudice

To dust.


Your spark, gives flame

To the candles of love;

Illuminating the pathway,

Uniting the world.


Thank you, Rachel, for welcoming me into your home and for sharing your vision with me.


Hannah Stone