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How poetry can help fight loneliness this Christmas

IN THE UK, more than 3.7 million people over the age of 65 are thought to live alone.

And with Christmas fast approaching, a new poetry competition aims to reconnect the generations.

The Manchester Children’s Book Festival, at Manchester Metropolitan University, has joined forces with the Co-op to launch “Poetry Together”. The brainchild of Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who is Creative Director of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met, Poetry Together invites children and young people to pair up with a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, carer, sibling or friend to write an original poem.

The aim of the competition is to bring people together creatively while also raising awareness of The Co-Operative’s charity partnership with The British Red Cross to combat loneliness in communities across the UK.
The launch took place on November 23 at Plymouth Grove Primary School, in Manchester, where prize-winning poet Mandy Coe inspired children and adults to take up the Poetry Together challenge.

Carol Ann Duffy said: “Poetry Together is a competition with a real difference in the way it emphasises collaboration between generations, and is tied into a wider socially-orientated campaign. The spirit underlying the principles that guide Poetry Together is also evident in the fact that the competition is free to enter and resources are available for free on the website to help those who aren’t sure where to start.”

Kaye Tew, Director of Education and Partnerships at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival, said: “It was the most amazing morning – we were so impressed with the children that we have invited them to take part in the launch of the 2016 Manchester Children’s Book Festival. They had lots of ideas about how they are going to work on poems at home with their parents, and we will be putting examples of their work on our blog. We’d love for more schools to get involved.”

Poems can be on any subject and in any shape or form. The judging panel will be headed by Carol Ann Duffy with poets Gillian Clarke and Martin Kratz. The two winning entrants will each receive a £250 gift voucher, and shortlisted entrants will be given 100 copies of their poem, professionally designed as postcards to share with friends and family.

Richard Pennycook, Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, said: “This is a wonderful way in which to connect people across different generations. Loneliness is one of our biggest social issues, but gets little public attention. Our members overwhelmingly chose it as our campaign issue this year, illustrating how pervasive it is. From young people struggling to find their identity, to single parents bringing up kids, to carers coping with dementia, to the elderly left on their own, it does not discriminate.”

The closing date for submissions is April 29, 2016. The shortlist will be announced in mid-May. For more information on Poetry Together and on how to enter the competition, visit www.mcbf.org.uk/get-involved/poetry-together.

Published Thursday, 26th November 2015 Bookmark and Share

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Manchester Metropolitan University is a leading university for the professions and a powerful driver of the North West economy.

The University educates and trains large numbers of the region’s legal and business professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, health workers and creative professionals. It enjoys an excellent reputation for teaching and applied research and is a recognised innovator in partnership working with its local communities. The University is currently investing almost £300 million in its estate and facilities.

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