Poetry helps to reduce isolation for Barking & Redbridge older people in Havering


A book of poetry is the first fruit from nearly 200 planned creative arts workshops with vulnerable older people, aimed at helping them have fun, build skills, make friends and reduce isolation. A programme designed and run by Create, will empower more than 120 older people across London over the next two years. It is co-funded by a £40,305 grant from London Masons and a grant from The Mercers’ Company.

Create has just been crowned Charity of the Year by Charity Times. The charity designs and delivers creative arts workshops to engage people who do not normally get the chance to be creative, bringing together the most vulnerable children or adults, tackling isolation and loneliness, building skills and promoting wellbeing.

The workshops are facilitated by professional practising artists such as writers and dancers and aim to work with the participants to produce original works of art, including jewellery, music and animation. The first of them, created by participants in Havering, is a book of evocative poems.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Create’s workshops are being delivered via it’s Create Live! online delivery mechanism over Zoom. In June and July, the participants took part in eight creative writing workshops led by Create’s professional writer. A photography project takes place between September and November.

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive of Create, said: “We’re deeply grateful to London Freemasons and The Mercers’ Company for their generous grants, which are enabling us to expand our programme for isolated older people across London. Delivering high quality creative arts workshops are a wonderful way to help reduce loneliness, build skills and create connections, increasing participants’ confidence and helping them to have fun. The health benefits are potentially huge, and the work they produce, such as their poetry book, is of a very high standard. It’s been wonderful to see a group of talented writers emerge.”

London Masons Charity Steward Tony Shields commented: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Create with this excellent project. Reducing isolation among older people is a priority for us. Loneliness is a real problem among parts of the older population. This grant follows on from a recent £2.5 Million donation to fund two ultra-high aerial platforms, six rapid response vehicles and four bariatric stretchers and earlier generous donations of £3 million to Bart’s hospital for the purchase of a Cyberknife and £2 million donation towards the second London Air Ambulance, all of which contribute to saving lives right across this great capital city.” The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.