Writing through the good and the bad times

There have been a lot of developments in recent years to include ‘creative writing’ alongside music, visual art, dance as part of a therapeutic approach to arts and health. Although I’m not trained as a counsellor or a therapist, I know that participants go away from writing workshops feeling that putting thoughts, ideas and memories on paper creates a lightness of being, a sense of fulfilment. During this project, we have used a range of approaches with older people in North Northumberland. Sometimes working with small groups, sometimes with pairs in day care, sometimes with individuals in their own homes.

It’s vital that everyone has the opportunity to be involved so we aim to create accessible and easy ways for people to be involved. We’ve been so impressed with the humour and energy that older people bring to the discussions, in spite of health or mobility difficulties, they have contributed poems, memories, stories, opinions, laughter.

Older people repeatedly state that they don’t want to be a burden, want to live independently, want to stay in their own homes. Written by one of the project participants, the poem below captures the difficulty of managing the most simple of activities.

Cup of Tea

I really need a cup of tea
So make the effort
Get off your chair, switch
Off the oxygen. You’re there.

Teabag in cup with the sugar
The milk’s in the fridge.
Lean on the bench to breathe
You need that cup of tea

Is this the start of it?
The kettle won’t boil as you
Forgot to switch it on, now
Wait longer for a cup of tea.

Momentous job which would have been
So effortless in my prime.
Is this the dreaded dementia? No.
I just want a cup of tea.


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