The Bennion Centre – Leicester

Location: Glenfield Hospital Leicester.

Partners: Leicestershire NHS Trust, Museum Development East Midlands

Lead Writer: Rob Gee

Shadow Writer: Trevor Wright

Museum visit: Memory box provided by Newarke Museum, Leicester.

Sessions took place between May and July 2019.

Participants worked towards producing a series of art posters which used their poetry, to be displayed on the wards to inspire future patients and visitors.

Rob Gee says:

As someone who went through a career change from psych nurse to poet, this series of workshops presented a unique opportunity to combine elements of both skill sets. Leading a series of creative writing workshops on two busy acute psychiatric wards was never going to be without its challenges, particularly in terms of staffing and the mental health of individual patients, as well as the quick turnover of bed occupation. These challenges were mitigated by the friendliness, professionalism and enthusiasm of staff members on both Kirby and Welford ward. Particular mention has to be made of Tony, the healthcare support worker who actually led one of the sessions with our support. He intends to continue this in the future.

What made the residency particularly enjoyable was the diversity of subjects we discussed and wrote about. Apart from anything else, this allowed both staff members and patients to see each other as complete human beings who love, work, worry and hope, as opposed to a uniform or someone with problems. A notable highlight was the gradual improvement in the mental health of one particular patient, who later identified the workshops as an essential milestone in her recovery. We hope that these workshops have started a process where elderly psychiatric wards will have further opportunities to explore artistic interventions in mental health.