Big turnout for the 'Listen Up’ poetry and music event at the Turner Contemporary
Over 120 participants and over a dozen performers took part in Listen Up, a poetry, music and art event held at the Turner Contemporary on Sunday 15th October. Hosted by SpeakUpCIC, it was held as part of a programme of activities marking World Mental Health Day to provide greater awareness of mental health through the power of poetry and performance.
The event took place in spite of threats hanging over SpeakUpCIC’s future because of the planned withdrawal of funding it currently receives from Kent County Council and the NHS locally. SpeakUpCIC have been informed funding to provide service user forums will end in March 2018 and new commissioning arrangements will be put in place.
Maggie Gallant, Managing Director of SpeakUpCIC, said,
“The Listen Up Poetry Event organised by SpeakUpCIC really did showcase what SpeakUpCIC stands for; reaching out to the local community, giving vulnerable people a voice and campaigning about mental health. We are an independent community interest company that supports people in raising their voices. The organisation is managed and run by people who have all suffered from a mental health problem, we are a company that firmly believes in 'for the people, by the people’ and we need the authorities to see the vital support we provide in helping improve people’s lives for the better.Maggie added,
“We’d like to give thanks to the Turner Contemporary for hosting us for the event, all the people who took part and all the SpeakUpCIC volunteers who helped make the day the roaring success that it was.”
The afternoon was formally opened by the Mayor of Margate, Cllr Rosamund Dixon, who gave some moving words about the importance of tackling stigma around mental health and having people to listen. Seasoned performers on the Kent-based poetry scene, alongside SpeakUpCIC members reading their own poetry, in addition to volunteers who read out submissions contributed by other members all gave their time, energy and creativity to make the event a huge success.
Music also featured as part of the day, including a powerful, moving song dedicated to Delyth Andrews who was brutally murdered in Ramsgate in 2015. For a grand musical finale members of the SpeakUp music group took the floor for an uplifting and entertaining communal rendition of Queen’s 'Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Clare Wright, one of the Directors of SpeakUpCIC, said:
“It was really special seeing this number of people coming together, whether it was people who had just come along out of curiosity or people who had been involved in SpeakUp for some time. And rather than being a depressing thing, today has actually been very, very uplifting, just sharing stories and helping people know they are not alone. The fact that what happened today brought some people out of isolation is really important to us.”
Ricky Gillies, one of the local poets performing at the event, said,
“It’s important to increase awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and also to let people know that creative outlets are available. Because someone who is struggling with their mental health often has an ability and a passion that hasn’t been nurtured before. Today was important.”SpeakUpCIC is also enormously grateful to the Turner Contemporary who provided the venue free of charge.