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Islington Word Festival focuses on mental health

Islington’s annual Word Festival gets under way on 25 May 2015 with the focus this year on the power of the written and spoken word to boost mental health and wellbeing.

Now in its fourth year, Word2015 offers a packed calendar of more than 40 events taking place in parks, schools, libraries, youth hubs and the Emirates Stadium.

The month-long festival has something for everybody but this year there will be a range of special events aimed at older people, particularly those with dementia and their carers, as well as young people with experience of mental health issues, and young children and their families.

Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “Word2015 has brought together some of Islington’s best writers, artists and arts organisations, with our fantastic libraries and local people to create a programme of activities for everyone to enjoy. I am especially pleased to see a focus on the important role that reading and writing can play in improving mental health.”

Highlights include
Where the Heart Is: An exhibition of photography, poetry, paintings and short films that gives a unique insight into the lives of people with dementia and their carers. As part of the programme, poet Sarah Hesketh will lead a special workshop for carers of people with dementia in Islington.

Stress/Release: For many young people, exam season is one of the most stressful times of the year. This fun programme of workshops is designed to relieve anxiety and help provide an escape. The project will culminate in the presentation of two new plays written by a group of GCSE students about what it feels like when the exams are finally over.

Speakeasy?: A forum theatre event which invites performers and audience members to explore and break down the barriers which prevent us expressing what we really want to say.

There are plenty of great events for families too, including:

Granddad, Dads and Lads – the performance: an evening of poetry and performance for all the family, featuring special guest Michael Rosen.

Prof Patel’s Punjeet and Judy-Gee Show: Zany puppeteer Prof Patel is back with his ever popular cross-cultural puppet show.

Word2015 is a partnership project between Islington Library and Heritage Service, Islington Arts Service, All Change and Free Word Centre. It is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England; and by Islington Council; Islington UNISON; BFK (BAM | Ferrovia | Kier) and Crossrail.

Joyce Wilson, Area Director London of Arts Council England, said: “The themes that this year’s festival will cover are really important and highlight the value that arts and culture has in engaging children and young people, older people and people with mental health difficulties. We are pleased to be supporting Word2015 through Grants for the Arts.”

Suzanne Lee, Artistic Director of All Change and Creative Producer of Word2015, said: “The festival demonstrates how arts organisations and libraries can work together to create extraordinary and imaginative experiences, which enable people of all ages to discover and tell stories, especially those we might not usually hear from, and in places we might not expect to find them.”

As ever, the Word Festival’s Poet in Residence Paul Lyalls will be spinning stories and creating pictures with words.

Rhyme them, prime them, story time them
Polish and shine them, crime them,
Intertwine them, realign them, enshrine them
Even wine and dine them!
Word2015

Come and find them.

For the full list of events, see www.wordfestivalislington.co.uk