Take Art has had two encounters with the BBC over the last week to bring attention to their long running performance poetry on prescription Word/Play project.
The first was a visit from the BBC Online cameras to The Rainbow Fish Speak Easy on Valentine's night to interview two of the participants and film some of their great performance pieces. The second was a trip to BBC Radio Somerset to talk about the positive effect the project has on mental health.
What is Word/Play?
Word/Play is a social prescribing project for people experiencing mental ill health. It uses performance poetry to empower individuals, giving them the freedom and encouragement to tell their stories. Participants take part in a 10-12 weeks of weekly afternoon sessions with a profession spoken word poet, which conclude with a live performance event in front of friends and family.
Once a participant has been through the course they are invited to continue to the Word/Play Plus group, where they are given more opportunities to meet up, write and perform their poetry. They can also become part of Yeovil's new spoken word poetry cabaret The Rainbow Fish Speak Easy, a hugely fun community poetry night forged from the success of the project thus far.
The next Rainbow Fish Speak Easy will take place on Thursday 11 April at 7.30pm at the Hub, Yeovil.
What is Social Prescribing?
Social prescribing is a way of supporting people’s health, wellbeing and social welfare that complements other treatment that people might receive from their GP. It is gaining traction and fast becoming a national priority in NHS England. The UK government recently announced its aim to provide universal access to social prescribing services by 2023.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care recently said in a speech that “The arts can help save money for the NHS and the social care system.”
One of the key elements of Word/Play is that it works closely with Yeovil’s newly appointed Health Visitors, who are based at local surgeries, responsible for providing a holistic approach to the wellbeing of their patients. The Health visitors are able to identify patients that they feel might benefit from the project and encourage them to try a taster session.
Working with professional performance poets Liv Torc and Roz Hilton for ten+ weekly sessions, participants take part in spoken-word workshops at the GP surgery, where they are given the chance to build their confidence, develop skills and find new ways to communicate in a safe and fun environment.
No previous writing or spoken word experience necessary. Sessions are accessible to everyone and are aimed at creating a sense of fun and comradely within the group.
What next for Word/Play?
While future plans to roll out social prescribing are being made at a strategic level, we are continuing to make Word/Play happen at a grassroots, community level. Local ownership is important.
We’d love to hear from anyone who might be interested in working with us to co-produce a project in their community, support the project financially, champion the work or find out more about Word/Play.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you could support this work.
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