Online poetry workshops to help Sussex people living with cancer

A 12 week online poetry workshop is being launched at the end of January with the aim of supporting people who are battling cancer.

It was made possible by National Lottery funding through Arts Council England and is being led by Brighton based Dr. Niki Strange with the help of the Macmillan Horizon Centre.

Niki says she found poetry was a source of solace and expression, and improved her wellbeing, whilst she faced melanoma and breast cancer.

During chemotherapy for Triple Negative Breast Cancer in 2019, Niki submitted one of her poems to a Brighton and Hove Arts Council competition; and out of 700 entries across Sussex, came second.

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She performed the poem at a Poetry Festival at The Old Market, which she found to be an ‘incredibly healing and empowering experience’. That night she resolved to help others affected by cancer through poetry, working with the Horizon Centre who supported her during her cancer treatment and afterwards.

Thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Niki is delighted to offer her 12-week ‘New Horizon’ Poetry pop-in to be run online starting at the end of January.

Each week the group will explore a poem or two, from the classic to the contemporary, which will cover themes such as love, hope, uncertainty, family and place. All levels are welcome, from beginners to aficionados. Niki will also develop her own poetic work inspired by her cancer experience, whilst being mentored by Dr. Jess Moriarty, Course Leader in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton, through the Centre for Arts and Wellbeing there.

Dr Moriarty said: “Poetry can take us to those places that words can’t always reach and offer insights into human experiences that move us, but also raise empathy and develop understanding. Niki’s writing gets straight to the heart of lived experiences and these workshops will support people to tell and share stories, developing a sense of connection and community. It is a needed and important project and I am thrilled Niki and Macmillan have been awarded funding to support people affected by cancer.”

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Acknowledging the support from the Horizon Centre, Niki said: “The wonderful Macmillan Horizon Centre was a haven during and after my cancer treatment. I took part in a range of complementary therapies and classes, from breathing workshops to aromatherapy massages, that gave my battered body and soul some much-needed tender loving care. The counselling services helped me find ways to process the experience of two separate cancer diagnoses within the space of a year. The centre is a very special place and I know many others feel the same way about it as I do - after each session I felt such immense gratitude to the people volunteering, it would take my breath away.”

“Although my treatment is over, my connection with Macmillan will continue for the rest of my life. Whether that’s through my work with the Horizon Centre, volunteering or fundraising, I want to make sure that other people affected by cancer benefit from their incredibly important services and support, as I did. With Macmillan there, I never felt alone.”

People can book by calling the Macmillan Horizon Centre Reception on 01273 468770 or email [email protected] The free online pop-in workshops start on 28 January 2021 and will be held every Thursday from 11am to 12 midday over 12 weeks.