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

A group of housebound Blackpool residents have found a creative voice through an online writing class.

By Lucinda Herbert
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 2:05 pm

The writers are all based around the Fylde coast, and have health conditions that make it hard for them to leave the house.

They learnt different types of creative writing, including short stories and poetry, over twelve weeks of informal classes done via Zoom.

And now they have showcased what they have learnt in a special book, called ‘Blooming Writers’.

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

Most of these people have been through a period of wondering how they can make their mark, so it’s lovely they’ve been able to break through. This is a good way to give them a voice.”

Linda, a professional writer and actress, got the idea for the workshops after she started teaching private creative writing classes during lockdown.

When everything opened up again, she realised that it wasn’t ‘back to normal’ for everyone.

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

“We’d all been complaining about being shut off at home, some people still continued to be housebound and isolated for a variety of reasons. Doing this over Zoom has made it accessible for people who were shielding or long term sick.”

And the group were of all abilities - from complete novices to lapsed writers.

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

“Everyone there knew what it’s like to be limited by health conditions, and they looked forward to seeing each other once a week. If someone was struggling with long covid and didn’t feel up to doing much, they could just come and connect with others and it lifted their mood.”

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

Katrina Jolly had found poetry helped her to identify why she was feeling low.

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 afterwards it made me realise I was very unwell and sought help from the doctor. I was able to truly understand how I was feeling after writing the poem.”

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

She said “I’d written stories in my teens but I stopped when my eldest child was born. I didn't have much time for myself.

The course has given me tremendous confidence and I’ve got a much better mind set. it’s been helpful to finally get some adult chit chat and wind down after a stressful day with the kids.”

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

She said: “I was pretty rubbish at writing but it didn’t matter. I made new friends who understood what I was going through, and we had such a laugh.”

The project was delivered with funding from Arts Council England.

The anthology contains work from nine creative writers in Blackpool, and can be purchased for £5.55 by e-mailing Linda Hampton at [email protected]