What is Word/Play?
Word/Play is a social prescribing project for people who want their voice to be heard, to feel better about themselves, or to make a difference in their lives. It uses performance poetry to empower individuals, giving them the freedom and encouragement to tell their stories and be witnessed.
The project has been enjoyed by many groups in Somerset, including people experiencing mental ill health, as well as adults with learning disabilities and autism.
Facilitated by spoken word artist, Liv Torc, the project model usually consists of ten weekly sessions for a group of up to ten people. Participants 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 is necessary and the sessions are safe and accessible to everyone. The ten-week course ends with an informal performance in front of friends and family.
Word/Play at the Hub
The latest project at The Hub in Yeovil worked with two groups of adults with learning disabilities and autism between January and May 2023. Supported by funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the Hub Trainees benefited hugely from working creatively with professional poets Liv Torc, Roz Hilton, Chris White, Chris Redmond and Jon Seagrave to find new ways to communicate and build their confidence in a safe and fun environment.
Word/Play is such an amazing experience. Our trainees are given so many opportunities in an inclusive environment to share their feelings and thoughts. The confidence and pride in their own abilities that they gained by expressing themselves freely was immense.Sharon, Hub Work Coach
I love it, I did feel included in everything. I loved the poetry and the fun we had.Martha, Hub Trainee
We first ran a project in partnership with the Hub in early 2020, also supported by the National Lottery Community Fund.
Due to the pandemic, we successfully transferred the project online where the participants worked together via Zoom, proving to be a creative highlight of their week!
Funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund, helped us to provide continuity and online support for the trainees at The Hub by running Zoom workshops and building on the work achieved so far. Thanks to the Government for making this possible.
We’re thrilled to share two tangible outcomes from Word/Play ‘online’: a book and a film.
Screaming at Butterflies
Screaming at Butterflies is a collection of poems written before and during the COVID pandemic by adults experiencing learning difficulties, autism or mental health challenges.
Giving them a chance to be heard, even when shielding in a global pandemic, it is a book of real, raw and awesome words.
Click here if you would like to buy a copy of the book for £7 (plus 75p postage).
Sheefly-Smiggle-Kinderland was created by trainees at The Hub, supported by Liv Torc and Chris White, to communicate their COVID hopes and fears in a fun and safe way.
We were delighted to be partners with Spark Somerset and Somerset Wildlife Trust in Thriving Communities Somerset, a new community-based project that benefited people’s health and wellbeing in Somerset.
Supported by the Thriving Communities Fund, Somerset County Council and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, the project aimed to strengthen and expand the range of social prescribing activities offered in Somerset, including creative and nature-based sessions and groups, by setting up a new partnership of organisations from a wide range of sectors.
These activities formed part of Social Prescribing, a national initiative where people are supported to engage in local community-based activities and services that can improve their health; such as peer support groups, physical activities, social groups, debt advice services & volunteering opportunities.
This partnership supported the development of these activities by working with existing groups to help them become more sustainable in the long term and better connected into the local health & care system.
For several years, Word/Play Plus offered continued support for participants so they didn’t end up stepping off a metaphorical cliff after the project ends. From previous incarnations of the project, we learnt that people value writing and performing as an ongoing technique for managing their mental health.
As well as two workshops a month with the lead poet, the group also met socially, providing peer support for each other. Since starting Word/Play Plus, participants met and performed regularly, taking part in local poetry events, slams and festivals, including Buddhafield and WOMAD.
One of the joys of the group was to meet together in person. Sadly, the covid pandemic meant that this could no longer happen and, for a number of reasons, transferring it online proved too challenging at the time.
Rainbow Fish Speak Easy
The Rainbow Fish Speak Easy, is a spoken word and live poetry platform. Prior to lockdown, the event happened bi-monthly at the Hub in Yeovil. It developed as a way to provide members of the Word/Play Plus group (previous project participants) to regularly meet and perform in a fun and safe environment.
Over time it grew to include and feature other writers and performers in the area. Each event is topped off with a big headline act and has become a hugely popular poetry platform in Somerset. Headliners have included Kate Fox, Francesca Beard, Jonny Fluffypunk, Chris Redmond, Elvis McGonagall, Pete the Temp, Birdspeed and Dizraeli.
During, and after, lockdown, we programmed the Rainbow Fish Speakeasy monthly online. We’ve currently pressed the pause button on the event until we can find the creative and financial means to make it happen ‘live’ again.