Online creative writing group brings together people in isolation with long covid in Blackpool

The writers are all based around the Fylde coast and have health issues that prevent them from leaving home.

They learned different types of creative writing, including short stories and poetry, during twelve weeks of informal lessons delivered via Zoom.

And now they’ve presented what they’ve learned in a special book, called “Blooming Writers.”

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Front row: Christopher Stell, Lisa Middleton, Linda Hampton (standing), Karen Pennington, Neal Sandwell Back row: Katrina Jolly, Amy Marie Mellor, Laura Shevaun Green. Photo credit: Henry Sandwell

Linda Hampton, Project Manager for Write At Home, said: “These writers have achieved great things and discovered their writing talents while overcoming so many physical and mental health barriers. I am very proud of them all.

Most of these people went through a period where they wondered how they could leave their mark, so it’s good that they were able to break through. It’s a good way to give them a voice. »

Linda, a professional writer and actress, came up with the idea for the workshops after she started giving private creative writing lessons during lockdown.

When everything reopened, she realized it wasn’t “back to normal” for everyone.

Blooming Writers – an anthology of work created by people taking the Write At Home creative writing course

“We all complained about being isolated at home, some people continued to be housebound and isolated for various reasons. Doing this on Zoom made it accessible to people who were protected or long-term sick.

And the group was of all abilities – from complete novices to stale writers.

It was designed to be informal, to improve mental health and to be fun.

“Everyone there knew what it was like to be limited by health issues, and they looked forward to seeing each other once a week. didn’t feel ready to do much, he could just come and connect with others and it lifted his spirits.

Linda Hampton (creator and project manager) of the Write At Home project. Photo credit: Henry Sandwell

Katrina Jolly had found that poetry helped her identify why she felt depressed.

She has bipolar disorder and one week in class she was really struggling with her mental health.

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She said: “I didn’t really know I was going through. I wrote a poem which was quite dark, and after that made me realize that I was very sick and I asked the doctor for help. I was able to really understand how I felt after writing the poem.

Amy joined the course with chronic depression and anxiety, and spent the lockdown caring for her children with special needs.

She said: “I had written stories as a teenager, but stopped when my eldest was born. I didn’t have much time for myself.

The course gave me huge confidence and I have a much better mindset. it was helpful to finally be able to chat between adults and relax after a stressful day with the kids.”

Laura Green joined after being diagnosed with a neurological disorder in late 2021.

She said, “I was pretty bad at writing, but that didn’t matter. I made new friends who understood what I was going through and we laughed so hard.

The project was carried out with funding from Arts Council England.

The anthology features the work of nine creative writers in Blackpool and can be purchased for £5.55 by emailing Linda Hampton at [email protected]