United Response and poet Rogan Wolf are delighted to launch Dignity and Light – two new collections of poetry, written with, by and about people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.

The poetry collections seek to build bridges to understanding what life is like for someone with a learning disability or mental health need by shining a light on those who are too often left in the shadows and on the fringes of society.

Rogan, a former mental health social worker, has curated both collections, as well as writing a number of the poems himself.

The first collection, Bridges to Learning Disabilityaims to challenge the stigma that exists around having a learning disability.

“Bridges to Learning Disability is partly a tribute to my late sister Kim, who had Down’s syndrome,” he says, “but this collection, too, is the result of many conversations and much listening – in this case mostly with people connected with United Response.”


Stig

The second collection, Bridges to Self at Sea, brings together voices and experiences from over many years to create a positive dialogue around mental health.

“Self at Sea comes from experiences and encounters in my professional life as a mental health social worker. It records the voices of many people,” explains Rogan. I hope both collections increase real understanding and that schools will use them.”


Schizophrenia - a poem

Immerse yourself in this unique poetry book

Read the collections as an e-book or download now:

Download your own copy of the Dignity and Light poetry collection


Donations towards the cost of producing the books would be greatly appreciated
, so that we can continue to support and inspire others with learning disabilities, physical and mental support needs to live their lives as creatively and independently as possible.

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Poems for everyone

“Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, always thought-provoking, the collections presented here aim both to portray people with dignity and respect,” says Diane Lightfoot, United Response’s director of policy and communications. “We hope that they inspire people to challenge their own views and to gain a new perspective on learning disability and mental health.”

The new collections are extensions of the highly acclaimed, Poems for... project, which has been running for 15 years, initially under the supDignity-and-Light-poetry-book.pdfervision of the Poetry Society. Poems for… aims to celebrate diversity in all forms, and to embrace difference through poetry.  The Poems for… collections were previously funded by the Arts Council, the Foreign Office and many others.

The new mental health collection Bridges to Self at Sea has been funded by the Central London Clinical Commissioning Group.

An illuminating exhibition

The two collections were displayed from 5-8th October 2015 at a free-of-charge exhibition at Paintworks Gallery in Bristol. Their launch was timed to coincide with National Poetry Day on 8th October and World Mental Health Day on 10th October – the themes of which, this year, were ‘Light’ and ‘Dignity’ respectively.

To mark the launch, United Response has published a book of all the poems from both collections, which you can read or download below.

The exhibition was accompanied by a private viewing and poetry recital, hosted by Ali Vowles of BBC Points West, during which the poems were described as “wonderful”, “inspiring”, “thought-provoking” and “illuminating”.

You can read more about the exhibition and poetry recital in our blog.

Download your own copy of the Dignity and Light poetry collection