• How is writing and reading helping?

    Wee Read has been slowly building plans for some community engagement in Glasgow.Christine has a few regular groups, in the Maggie’s Centre, Lanarkshire and Glasgow Buddhist Centre. Adrian continues at Stonehouse Hope Cafe and is doing a 1-1 project.The people who come to our groups find it very helpful, sometimes emotional, very supportive and one cancer patient said:

    “Christine, THIS is my therapy!”

    Some extend their reading at home with a new-found or revived enjoyment of poetry and other creative writing. It is obvious to me how it helps, when there is an improvement in their writing over a period of time, as well as their willingness to share their more personal and profound ideas.

    It’s good to see a continuing interest and valuable research in the healing power of words. Here is a link to a BBC Future article that explores how writing may affect physical healing…

    “… the field psychoneuroimmunology has been exploring the link between what’s now known as expressive writing, and the functioning of the immune system. The studies that followed examined the effect of expressive writing on everything from asthma and arthritis to breast cancer and migraines. In a small study conducted in Kansas, for example, it was found that women with breast cancer experienced fewer troublesome symptoms and went for fewer cancer-related appointments in the months after doing expressive writing.”

    Some of the research shows that wound healing can have a short-term benefit with some people, however there are always limits and people respond differently.

     

     

     

     

  • Let’s get bibliotherapy widespread!

     

     

    Weeread2ndlot (18 of 30) (640x424)Photos by D.M Fox

    If you wish to find out more about what is happening in the work around bibliotherapy, here are some

    News and Events for Scotland

    See what is on at public libraries through CILIPS and the National Library in the next year or so. There is an ‘Open Book‘ project you may wish to contact if you live near Edinburgh.

    Why don’t you come to the

    Words Work Well for All Workshops

    at Glasgow Women’s Library on the 18th of March? Sir Kenneth Calman will give a talk and he is Chair of The National Library. You can also get the chance to network with other people working in this field.Tickets are only £10 here:

     

    The workshops look really interesting :

    PROGRAMME WORKSHOPS

    Out Of The Box: Writing in the Archives with Donna Moore Using the treasures in Glasgow Women’s Library’s museum and archive to inspire creative writing. From Suffragettes to Sewing Patterns, from Radical Posters to Roller Derby, from Bunty to Badges – GWL’s collections are a cornucopia for creativity.

    Donna spends her time surrounded by words and women’s history – whether in her role as Adult Literacy and Numeracy Development Worker at Glasgow Women’s Library, as part of her Creative Writing PhD at the University of Stirling, or as co-host of the annual crime fiction convention CrimeFest.

    Balance for Life: when the wind blows the tree bends – tai-chi, poetry & healing with Larry Butler Each tai-chi move is a metaphor, each move could be the title of a poem and playing tai-chi can boost your immune system.

    Larry writes poetry, teaches tai-chi, editor PlaySpace Publications and convenor for Lapidus Scotland, and facilitates writing groups in health and social care settings.

    The Mother Tongue: how language shapes us – with Helen Lamb Everybody has a private vocabulary, which they may not even be fully aware of. Some expressions are handed down through generations; you might suddenly hear yourself repeating something to your own children that was often said to you as a child. This workshop will explore some of our earliest experiences and memories of language and use them to inspire poems and stories.

    Helen is a poet and fiction writer and has published a short story collection, Superior Bedsits, and a poetry collection, Strange Fish. Helen has facilitated creative writing groups for Forth Valley Health Board, Falkirk & District Association for Mental Health, the Maggie’s centre in Edinburgh, and for Open Secret, a confidential service for adult survivors of childhood abuse.

    Learning through Stories – a 20 minute talk with Sir Kenneth Calman

    Ken is Chairman of the National Library of Scotland; Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. Former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland then England & Wales; He chaired the Commission on Scottish Devolution, and was President of the British Medical Association. He was awarded a KCB in 1996. His most recent publication is: “A Doctor’s Line. Poems and Prescriptions in Health and Healing.”

    Paint & Write – with Janie Walker Together we will create a beautiful pastel painting followed by some “artistic writing”

    Janie teaches ‘non believers’ to create Art, writing and spiritual visualisations to increase self-esteem. Janie’s hobbies are also her work so she believes she is very grateful to have been gifted with her talents.

    Journaling and Yoga with Jayne Wilding Journaling and yoga are ways of connecting with our innermost self. Join Jayne Wilding in a workshop which will combine relaxing yoga (done from our chairs) and journaling exercises to help us on the path to knowing ourselves.

    Jayne is a freelance writer and yoga teacher. sky blue notebook from the Pyrenees draws on the experience of living in the foothills of the French Pyrenees for three years. Jayne runs writing and yoga workshops for health and wellbeing in Fife and Dundee.

    Bedtime Stories for Beginners with Stewart Ennis Working with readers and writers in the context of a maximum security prison – In this workshop I will discuss my own personal experiences of working in prison and explore the creative ways in which I’ve learned to deal with the issues of personal sharing and personal protection. I will also look at the ways in which reading and writing can have a positive impact on prisoner’s relationships with one another and with loved ones on the other side of the wall, and how creative writing can nurture empathy and help to creative positive new identities.

    How do I encourage prisoners to open up while actively discouraging the prisoners from writing about the elephant in the room, their crime?

    Stewart is a writer, performer and teacher. He was a founder member of the theatre ensemble Benchtours and has written and performed for many Scottish theatre companies. For the past five years he has been Creative Writing & Performance tutor at HMP Shotts. His first novel The Saving of Joseph Kirkland will be published at the end of 2017.

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    You can also join Lapidus Uk which focuses on writing for wellbeing. There is a Jiscmail email alert group called BIBLIOTHERAPY you can perhaps join – they advertise jobs, research and events.I can add you to my Wee Read list for occasional events and news as well, if you wish.Contact me here if you would like to write a short piece about the work you have done for this Wee Read website.

    Enjoy all your reading and writing for wellbeing!

    Christine     

  • See me, Read me – 6 sessions at The Hope Cafe 14th October

    See Me, Read Me!

    Wee Read

    A six weeks course of reading and writing in which we challenge mental health stigma.

    Starts Wednesday 14th

    October at the Hope Café,

    8 Wide Close,

    Lanark

    2 – 3.30 pm

    Join us to share stories, poetry and writing.

    This is a FREE course. Please book a place by calling 07952 982868

    email christine@weeread.scot

     

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  • The Hope Cafe Wednesday 8th of July

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    Second session in Mandy’s Place at The Hope Cafe!

     

    A small group of us met this week and we had a very frank, open and meaningful reading and writing session. We started with The Voyeur, by Tom Leonard, which is all about the word ‘wee’.

    It starts:

    ‘What’s your favourite word dearie

     is it wee,

    I hope it’s wee…’ 

    from  Tom’s book, Outside the Narrative which I recommend. It’s a very interesting collection of works for those of us who feel like “foreigners on their native soil.”

    A suggested prompt to write from this was: What are your favourite words?

    We made lists and some amazing stuff came out.

    Then we read William Stafford’s poems,  ‘Ask me’ and ‘The Way it is’. 

    We wrote from the prompt: Ask me… and got some strong responses with this.

    From strength to strength, we went on to experience the power of Maya Angelou, by reading ‘Still I Rise’ and chatted about it.

    We had a read of an item from the Scottish Recovery website,  Write to Recovery, called: ‘Eat a frog’  about anxiety- eating the frog is one step in breaking through something you are worried about- and relates to the technique of thinking of a big problem as an elephant,  How do you eat an elephant? In small chunks.

    My suggestion for home writing was: What are your frogs or elephants?Only a suggestion, as we can write whatever we want and know it is right!

    More mental wealth at The Hope Cafe next week! Anyone can write, please come along!

     

  • Writing for mental health podcast SMHAFF Conference 2015

     

    Exciting podcast  from March 2015, Glasgow CCA, it’s well worth a listen (1 hour).

    With various speakers, including John McCormack of the Scottish Recovery Network, Gail Porter and Duglas T. Stewart of the BMX Bandits.

    On 26 March 2015 the Mental Health Foundation staged The Dust of Everyday Life, a conference at the CCA in Glasgow designed to ask challenging questions about the relationship between mental health and the arts. The findings will help to shape future editions of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, as we prepare for our tenth programme in 2016.

    The Dust of Everyday Life consisted of a series of panel discussions touching on film, TV, theatre, photography, and writing, as well as stigma, social justice and raising awareness.

    This is a recording of our session on writing, which asked the question: from memoirs to creative fiction, what role can writing play in overcoming mental health issues?

    The panel consisted of Gail Porter (writer, TV presenter and health campaigner), Duglas T Stewart(singer-songwriter, BMX Bandits), Michael Rowe (associate professor, department of psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine)and John McCormack (Scottish Recovery Network)

    Looking at firstly the act of writing and what does it change?

    Gail reads from her book about being sectioned, in a funny and irreverent way.But she also makes you aware of how she felt at that critical time:

    “Once upon a time my head hurt a lot. So  … I was sectioned…

    …There was fear, there was fear, shame,…

    oh and did I mention, fear?”

    Then Duglas : “Sometimes the scream comes out as  a song…”

    John shared that when you write when you’re very anxious, …”it creates a narrative and you can capture it rather than leave it whirring round and round…”.  I relate to the whirring mind. I agree with John, that writing slows me down a bit, creates a space to reflect.The panel was chaired by Mark Brown (editor of 1 in 4 magazine) and he prompts the panel with interesting questions, and adds his own thoughts:

    “Writing is magical, turning something inside you into gold…”

    Later, Mark asks them the second question: “What is the value of writing of tackling writing ABOUT mental health..people with experience of bad stuff, ..getting it out into the public?”   John refers us to the Write To Recovery website,  and reminds us how beneficial writing about the bad stuff IS.As Ted Bowman would say, if it’s unmentionable, it’s unmanageable. I agree with this. Deffo.

    The focus on  positive words about the value of  not being alone were two talking points that I liked hearing from this podcast. I remember that feeling, on the phone to the Samaritans, you suddenly realise there’s loads a people like me.And it helps a lot.