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University of Westminster co-launches #HealingWords poetry competition for people with mental health problems

English 6 September 2017

Healing Words competition by University of Westminster

The University of Westminster has partnered with London charity Advocacy Project and the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) to launch #HealingWords, a poetry competition for people and their families experiencing or who have experienced mental health problems. The deadline is 5pm on Monday 11 September.

The competition follows the journey from the darkest days of mental illness to the point of recovery – and all stages in between, with entry categories divided into: Darkest days; Good days and bad days; Being well; and Best illustrated poem.

The judges include Alexandra Warwick, Professor of English Studies at the University of Westminster, Joanna Scanlan, renowned actress and writer, Gill Manly of Ronnie Scott’s fame, Claire Murdoch, Chief Executive at CNWL, and Melanie Scagliarini, international development worker, blogger and filmmaker.

Joanna Scanlan will read the winning poem at an evening of celebration on Thursday 28 September 2017, and Gill Manly will also perform at the event.

#HealingWords celebrates the value of creative activities in the recovery process as a way of engaging the imagination, reminding people of their capabilities and value, and building a sense of identity and social worth.

Professor Alexandra Warwick said: “We are really thrilled to be working with the Advocacy Project on the #HealingWords poetry competition, and I am especially excited to be one of the judges.

She added: “Poetry sets language free and poetry can be liberating and therapeutic for people with mental health problems. Language and poetry don’t have to be precise and accurate, and fix things down. Poetry encourages meaning, it encourages variety of expression, it allows all of those fleeting experiences, those momentary impulses and ideas to be captured but not imprisoned. It allows the exploration of all of those different emotions in all their varieties.”

The deadline for submitting entries to [email protected] is 5pm on Monday 11 September. Entries can be written, recorded or videoed. The poems should be no longer than 25 lines.

Learn more about the #HealingWords competition.

Watch the video of Professor Warwick explaining how poetry can help the healing process of people with mental health problems.

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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