We are collaborating with Arts and Minds early in 2023 to offer a series of workshops exploring writing for wellbeing. This has previously proven a great success when we offered a similar series in the past, as writing can be a valuable tool to express ourselves and reflect on experience.
Outcomes from past writing events from our CUH community
As part of our celebration of Creativity and Wellbeing Week in May 2021, CUH Arts teamed up with creative writing specialist Ruth Cocksedge from local charity Arts and Minds to facilitate an hour-long creative writing for wellbeing workshop. This was attended by ten staff members from CUH, Ely Day Surgery, and Medirest.
The workshop involved listening and sharing responses to the poem ‘Emerging’ by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). The poem contains both dark and light imagery, giving us lots to talk about and reflect on as we emerge from a heavy phase of the pandemic and consider what may come next.
The group then had 10 minutes to write independently in whichever form they wanted, whether by jotting down words or phrases, free-form expressive writing, poetry, thoughts stimulated by the poem or their own experiences. The workshop concluded by inviting participants to share their experience of the writing process with the group and excerpts of what they created if they wished to.
Though it was a short session and participants didn’t know each other, we were struck by the support atmosphere of the group and people’s willingness to share and respond to others writing. We had some fantastic feedback from participants following the session and will be hosting a four-part creative writing for wellbeing workshop series later this summer.
I enjoyed the sense of togetherness and positivity that came from hearing other people’s work.Creative Breaks participant feedback
I would wholeheartedly recommend it!Creative Breaks participant feedback
Participants have given us permission to share their writing, which we are proud to do!
Here is Vicky DeMonteverde-Robb’s response to Neruda’s poem, followed by her own poem from the session.
Written response to the Emerging poem:
In the darkness
No one lies in wait to reach the end
Of this tunnel we call life
One hopes and grabs for every single ray of light
That filters through the cracks,
That shines through every gaps and holes
Always looking ahead, ever changing
And moving forward
Thinking out loud – my experience
The pandemic showed how much
I got caught up in the daily grind,
The things I took for granted;
I felt such sense of loss and pain, yet gained
A better understanding of things I value most
Being forced to stop
Gave me the freedom to take stock,
Breathe and reflect … even dream.
We are emerging.
Different selves from before.
At times older, bitter and sad
Perhaps more embracing of solitude
And what it offers;
Perhaps more content with less.
By Vicky DeMonteverde-Robb, Senior Improvement and Transformation Officer
Expressive writing inspired by the workshop.
“What does it mean to be free? Are we ever really free? Are we ever allowed to be ourselves? Think what we want to think? Feel what we want to feel? Or are we a product of society? Design to conform, to agree, to follow rules. Without thinking, without questioning, without challenging. Just say “yes”. Because what’s good for others is obviously good for you. Isn’t it?
But we are all our own being. Our bodies might be made from the same particles, but our souls and minds are unique. We don’t feel what others feel, we don’t think what others think. We weren’t made in a factory. We were created by the Universe. Children of this planet. We were made to be free. Like birds. Like ocean. Like wind. Wild and free.
To live without fear to be judged. To live without fear to be hurt. To live without fear to dream. To live without fear to love. To live without fear to be alive.”
– By Sylwia Tichanow, Clinical Education Facilitator