What is the Storytelling, Poetry and Campaigning Project?
In 2020, Well Versed Ink and Macmillan Cancer Support partnered to address health inequalities in London, using poetry and storytelling to provide the tools for seldom heard groups to access decision makers and budget holders for a better cancer service.
Between January and April 2021, we ran workshops aimed to create space for people affected by cancer, especially those underserved because of ethnicity or postcode, to share their stories and affect positive change to cancer care services.
The results of the workshops were an incredible group of people living with cancer and carers putting together a toolkit for others living with it called 'Raising Your Voice', who are concerned about the care they are receiving or feel they have been treated unfairly. It covers topics like knowing your rights, having challenging conversations, how to contact your local MP and more.
With the success of Phase 1, we have continued our paternership with Macmillan to expand our cohort from London only to England-wide and take some of the issues raised further.
Workshops will resume in Autumn 2021 with the sessions now open to people 18 or over across England. They sessions will culminate in an 'Ideas Fair' that brings together people living with cancer, carers, Macmillan staff and healthcare professionals to address our most pressing concerns raised in our group.
How does it work?
How often are the workshops?
Once every two weeks. Eight sessions in total.
Who can take part?
The project is open to people 18 or over who live in England and have:
been diagnosed with cancer within the last 5 years or are still undergoing treatment
faced challenges or issues accessing cancer services or with health professionals due to postcode or ethnicity
We also have limited spaces for carers of people with cancer. We hope to roll this project out even more widely in the future to raise the voices of others too.
How do you attend?
Workshops take place online. You will need to have access to a computer or a tablet with an internet connection. We offer support with using video software if you haven’t used it before.
What happens in the workshops?
We spend the first session getting to know each other and reviewing the progress made from Phase 1. We'll talk about stories - the power they hold and their importance - as well as the issues most pressing for us.
Over the eight sessions, we'll support you to capture your story using poetry and other writing techniques. We'll explore themes around 'personal and community power', institutional racism, sharing of our ‘gifts’, perceptions and unconscious bias. We will also create ideas on how we can use our stories to influence change in health care practice.
At the end of the sessions, we will hold an online 'Ideas Fair', where we take forward our most pressing concerns and invite Macmillan staff and healthcare professionals to offer their expertise in tackling them together.
Who runs the workshops?
The workshops are co-hosted by Poet and Community Builder, Darren Randon from Well Versed Ink and Paul Macey, Community Builder.
Do I need previous experience of writing?
No. You will be guided through ways of how to write your story in your own way.
Will I have to run a campaign?
No. The word 'campaigning' can sound intimidating to some of us, as we think of marches, megaphones and media. It doesn't have to be like that at all.
Campaigning can look like a conversation over coffee exchanging experiences and finding common ground to move forward. It can look like retweeting an important message. It can look like sharing resources you find online. Whichever way you feel is best for you, is best.
Who will be able to access my story?
The workshop facilitators - Darren and Paul - along with Macmillan staff and health professionals to help affect change.
When do the workshops begin?
Workshops re-start Autumn 2021.
How do I sign up?
Sign up to our mailing list to stay informed.
The 'Raising Your Voice Toolkit'
We truly believe the toolkit, created by people living with cancer and those who have cared for them, can help many concerned with the care they are receiving or feel they have been treated unfairly.
To see the fantastic work of our first cohort, click the button below.