A picture of Dr Kim Wiltshire
Dr Kim Wiltshire © Edge Hill University

A pilot creative project to encourage positive mental health among NHS staff is being trialled by an Edge Hill University academic and partners.

Dr Kim Wiltshire, Programme Leader for Creative Writing, has launched online writing sessions for NHS staff as part of a new response to supporting local hospital trusts during Covid-19.

Partnering up with Lime, the art department for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, together they have developed the series of new online workshops aimed at enhancing mental wellbeing through creativity.

A picture of Lime Art Manchester logo
The Lime Art Manchester © 2020 – Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Participants so far have ranged from A&E doctors, nurses and midwives to pharmacists, therapists and support staff, who have been creating short stories and poems exploring their experiences either during the pandemic or focussing on something completely different that delves into their imaginations.

Dr Wiltshire explained how the project came about and the mental health benefits creative writing can have: ‘I’ve worked with Lime for over 15 years now, and I sit on the advisory board. When it became clear that because of Covid they would no longer be able to run their participatory arts programme, we decided to try online workshops, because all you need to write is a pen, paper and a quiet space. The workshops have been truly joyful experiences for all of us, with so much lovely work created!’

Initial feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive saying that the workshops give them “me time”, that they are “accessible and fun” as well as “inspiring”, with “no judgement”, allowing them to be more creative. Many have also said they were surprised at the work they had been able to produce.

The workshops have also encouraged more internal networking with NHS workers from different wards, specialisms and hospitals making new connections and sharing their experiences.

The unique stories captured through these workshops will form part of a Lime exhibition at Manchester Royal Infirmary in 2021.

Creative writing course at Edge Hill University helps students learn and develop as writers, working with professional poets, novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, and short-story writers. To find out more about our undergraduate BA (Hons) Creative Writing course and others, visit the website, or for postgraduate studies take a look at MA Creative Writing.