Warwick mental health centre users showcase the power of poetry

The service users Rethink in Warwick took part in a poetry project over eight weeks.
The service users Rethink in Warwick took part in a poetry project over eight weeks.

Warwickshire’s Library Service teamed up with a centre in Warwick that helps those with mental illness for a poetry project to help service users.

The library service has been working with Warwick’s branch of Rethink Mental Illness, which is located in Coten End, for the Warwickshire Poetry Voices project (a project setup by Warwickshire’s Library Service).

A group of adults living with mental illness have been taking part in a series of poetry and performance workshops over an eight week period.

Meeting weekly at Rethink in Warwick, the group explored a range of poetry including Benjamin Zephaniah, Carol Ann Duffy and Maya Angelou.

Through discussion, visual art, writing exercises and performance the group chose poems they felt a connection with to perform at a public sharing event.

Nicola Hall, Service Manager for Rethink said: “It was absolutely brilliant. Way beyond my expectations.

“We had so many people come to listen to the poems we had to get extra chairs.”

Stella Thebridge, Principal Librarian, Schools and Reading, added: “This work with the Rethink group has been warmly received and proved the power of poetry to promote well-being and confidence.

“We are delighted that our Arts Council-funded project has been able to reach out to wider audiences through sessions of this kind, and are grateful to Nicki Stevenson, who managed the project, and to the staff at Rethink who were such supportive partners.”

Warwick Cllr Parminder Singh Birdi, who attended the event said: “This was a wonderful event and it was great to see the poetry performances from the participants and hear how these workshops have helped them to build their confidence.

“Mental health is something that we all have and it is important that we look after it. There are a range of services available in Warwickshire that can help you to improve your wellbeing and support you during difficult times. You can find out more at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/mentalhealth”

Warwickshire Poetry Voices is a participatory project designed to encourage the reading, reciting and performance of poetry. The project aims to provide children, young people and adults living in Warwickshire with the opportunity to develop performance skills and the confidence to perform a wide range of classic and contemporary poetry.

The project will come to a close in December 2017.

For more information about the project go to: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/warwickshirepoetryvoices