Patients from the Peterborough hospice and Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Gloucestershire have come together virtually to enjoy ‘Writing for Wellbeing’ sessions. They are delivered by Hospice Volunteer and Befriending Coordinator, Patricia Fleming, who is also a qualified Writing for Wellbeing practitioner.
The sessions offer patients a chance to get creative and collaborate on short pieces of writing, as well as to explore and express the emotions that inspire their pieces.
And patients are full of praise for the positive impact of the sessions on their wellbeing.
Amanda, from Market Deeping in Lincolnshire, has functional neurological disorder caused by encephalitis, and is getting a lot from the Writing for Wellbeing sessions. She said: “I have loved getting together with others to listen to people’s writing. Nothing too deep or difficult to understand - just simple words put together in a way that inspires and evokes such beautiful thoughts and memories.
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“As we discuss this as a group we are inspired and motivated to talk about and jot down our own thoughts or distant reflections, often with a warmth and tenderness long forgotten.
“We share a deep level of affection and empathy with others in the group, as when they reminisce about family tales of a distant past we share their enjoyment, pleasure and sometimes tears.
“Through this wonderful process we unearth the significance of people or places that have contributed to making us who we are today.
“If this is something positive we can look back with warmth and affection, and if our recollections unearth something negative we are shown ways to safely deal with this once and for all, and move on.
“Pat puts our words and our simple sentences together into the most beautiful poetry. We are amazed and encouraged to write more. Writing is no longer strenuous or arduous, it becomes pleasurable.
“Pat is such a knowledgeable and talented lady. She took us on a creative journey of discovery to look at life and ourselves from a different perspective. To find safe and supported ways to express ourselves, and unwrap the artistic sides of us we never knew existed.”
Sue, who lives in Gloucestershire and has Parkinson’s, said: “Writing is one of my passions, and I really enjoy the sessions. We explore poetry, old and new, and look back on our own lives and explore what makes “us, us” through writing.
“After the session I feel as if I have been somewhere. It’s hard to explain, but it takes me to places I had previously forgotten, by looking back at my life and lives of others.”
Patricia Fleming is Volunteer Coordinator at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice and also a qualified Writing for Wellbeing practitioner. She plans and manages the sessions in addition to carrying out her normal role at the Gloucestershire hospice, and is glad to have the opportunity to share her professional skills and experience with patients and staff and to support the virtual programmes being offered by Sue Ryder.
“I love this work and seeing people benefit from it in a safe and supportive environment is incredibly rewarding,” she said.
“Writing for Wellbeing supports resilience and good mental health and the sessions encourage patients to explore their thoughts and feelings, with each week focusing on a different theme or topic.”
“Reading poetry together can also be a great source of comfort. They say that there isn’t a feeling in the world that a poet hasn’t already felt, and so I choose poems that reflect life in all its ups and downs.
“When you read a poem, written perhaps a hundred years ago, that seems to sum up exactly how you feel, then you know you’re not alone. That’s a really good feeling for us to share, particularly at the current moment.”
Hospice teams plan to collaborate further to support patients virtually with a greater variety of activities too, with joint arts and crafts sessions in development.
For more information about the virtual day services programme offered at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Cambridgeshire please email [email protected] or call 01733 225900.