February 19, 2024, by Arts Placements

Way With Words – Dementia and Poetry Reading 

 By Freya Hazelwood

Why I Applied  for the Way with Words Poetry Reading Group

Dementia is an issue close to my heart, having worked at a care home, and my grandfather having passed from Alzheimer’s just last year. I am also an English student with a passion for the cultural industries. So, when I saw the posting for the Way with Words volunteering placement, it truly felt like a no-brainer. The chance to celebrate poetry whilst uplifting those with dementia was one I wanted to seize. 

Of course, many people take on placements to assist with their careers. While I applied due to my passions outside of the working world, I saw opportunities to grow in professional areas too.  For example, time management, research and presentation skills are important for this placement. 

The Application Process 

The application process was simple. I was asked to bring in a poem to read at the interview; I chose Wendy Cope’s ‘The Orange’. Anyone familiar with this poem will understand its simple beauty and appreciation for the everyday. I felt this poem would be perfect for the reading group as it reminds us to take a breather and appreciate what we have in front of us, like an absurdly large orange. Luckily, the group leader Dr Kevin Harvey also agreed, and I was selected to volunteer. 

My Experience  

Once a fortnight we would meet up at a venue in Beeston. Each week was themed, and I can safely say I have nowhere near as many poetry books as the other members. I would find mine from the internet, whereas they always had one for the occasion. While it was usually us three students and Kevin reading poems, the group members often recited along with us, and a few times brought their own poems along. The atmosphere was always extremely pleasant and welcoming. I felt great about sharing a love of literature with a passionate group of people.  

Funnily enough, ‘The Orange’ was read out one week by another volunteer, Oliver. In the face of such an illness, it can be hard to see those everyday joys. However, the chance to appreciate art together like this, even once a fortnight, is very therapeutic. I am thankful to Kevin for setting up the group, as I feel it is extremely important to all, and is something I wish could have been offered to my grandfather.  

All three of us volunteers have decided to continue with Way with Words this semester.  

Posted in Community EngagementVolunteering