We keep saying it, and we’ll say it again – don’t judge a book by its cover. PoetsIN are much more than the name suggests; and we’ve evolved much over the three and a half years since we began. However, people still refer to us as ‘the poets’ and think we still deliver workshops in prison. Not so.

It’s mental health awareness week, so we want to shout a little about what we have achieved and what we do for people week in, week out. Our groups encourage people to celebrate the small things. Well, we’re doing exactly that, but also the big things we’re doing.

In our last blog instalment, we spoke of the work we are doing IN-person within our communities, but our work reaches much further than the hands we shake and the smiles we elicit within our in-person sessions.

Not everything online is toxic

The in-person sessions also include a ‘homework’ element – something that is done entirely online to reduce our carbon footprint as a charity (save trees and the planet, yo’). This is where our online project manager Lish comes in. Homework is scheduled and accessible to our group members, with the tasks all focused on furthering the in-person course material. Participants have a week to complete it and are expected to reflect on the week and write about their experience and the things they’ve learned.

Lish says: “Watching participants of the online groups flourish has been such an honor. It continues to amaze me how much untapped potential is out there and how courageous these lovely people truly are; tapping into that potential and sharing it with the online community takes the utmost bravery to accomplish. Witnessing their confidence build and their self-worth shine through is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever been a part of.”Lish – PoetsIN online project manager

Furthering our online footprint, we also take the in-person group materials exclusively online to those in rural locations or those outside of the UK so they can benefit from our courses. We are seeing staggering results from both the in-person and online groups – something beyond all expectations.

When these groups end, the support does not – as we have a listening service that runs from 9am – 10pm GMT accessible via our website where people can talk to one of the team, cutting isolation and helping the individual by just being there, listening, offering words of comfort, and suggestions that may have a positive impact on their mental wellbeing.

Alongside the listening service we also have the most incredible group environment set up on Facebook. You can find that here. This group has over one thousand members who all come together to share their thoughts, feelings, troubles, and triumphs in a safe and non-judgemental environment. 100% of our group members find PoetsIN useful to their mental wellbeing, and feel less isolated as a result of being in the group. It is moderated 24/7 and we have some amazing theme days and writing prompts to sink your teeth into.

Beth, one of our admins states: “PoetsIN is a safe space to be with zero judgement. The past year there has helped me grow stronger both mentally, and creatively. I’ve watched people struggling gain incredibly important support bases, and that is the power of PoetsIN. Giving support to people who otherwise have none.” – BethPoetsIN Ambassador

Frank, another of our admins, follows this with: “I’ve been involved at PoetsIN in one fashion or another since its inception and the one thing that has remained constant is that it is, as I have dubbed it, the safest emotional place on earth!  The team here works diligently to maintain that safe environment, and members who have felt very unsafe or unsure about sharing their innermost feelings in other groups feel more comfortable doing so at PoetsIN.  I’ve witnessed, first hand, how opening up that dialogue is one of the first and most important steps to better mental health. Personally, it has been a safe haven for me. A place where I have made some very significant connections with some tremendously caring people.  We all share the same motivation of supporting others and erasing the stigmas surrounding mental health.” Frank – PoetsIN Ambassador.

The group itself looks at mental wellbeing, writing as a form of release, supporting, engaging, and encouraging fellow members, along with highlighting the achievements of our community – which is hugely powerful.

Co-Founder Sammie comments: “Our Facebook Group is something I am incredibly proud of. It was never our intention initially to provide this facility, however within its first year it has outperformed our impact assessment goals. To see the interaction within the community often leaves me in awe of the kindness and compassion that exists online. Social media gets a lot of negative press and can be toxic, however, our group is the antithesis to what you read about. It’s the safest, friendliest, most supportive place online to explore thoughts and feelings with zero judgement. The power of words paired with the power of community is such a mighty tool. I’d implore anyone who is feeling lost, unheard, unsure, isolated, or unconfident to join – no, scrap that, I’d implore everyone to join. No matter where you are in life, you will get something out of being in this community.”

We will be expanding and evolving the things we do in the coming weeks and months. Keep up-to-date with all of our goings on by following us on social media, along with checking back here, often for updates.

In the meantime, stay well, speak up, and use your words to be heard.

Team PoetsIN.

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