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Pete's Poetry workshop has been the most popular group at Chalkhill inpatient unit for a number of years. It turns out that young people love poetry - not the poetry imposed at school, but a poetry group that let them go deep in a safe and trusted environment. Time and time again I have been blown away by the extraordinary expression, bravery and understanding that young people possess. It is my deepest privilege to share this space with such amazing people! 

Since I started the group there have been so many different people attending and I have always feared that the magic of the group might dissipate. It never has. I have learnt over the years when to have input and when to step back. There have been so many people who have come to the group saying they don't do poetry, but by the time they leave Chalkhill they have books filled with poems they have written. Poetry has the ability to unlock so many deeply buried feelings. Sharing these feelings with peers and myself takes a little bit of the pressure off - that can be really important for people who are under extreme pressure. 

Putting words on a page can also help people get a little distance so they can reflect on their feelings, behavious and the driving (or destructive) forces in their lives. Of course it might just be laughter people want and there is always a lot of that in my groups. The therapeutic value of laughter can never be underestimated! 

Being appreciated, applauded and supported by your peers is very good for self-esteem. As E. wrote in one of her very early poems:

"I am a piece of camouflage

In a camouflaged painting

Wishing I could be seen."

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