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Poems for those who wait

An initiative to display poems in waiting rooms has been rolled out by CNWL to make these places more welcoming and sensitive for patients. Poem-posters will be displayed on walls and a pamphlet of poems will be available.  It is one of several Poems for...initiatives run by the charity Hyphen-21, which publishes poems online and free of charge for public display in schools, libraries and healthcare settings.

Rogan Wolf, founder of the charity and a retired Mental Health Social Work Manager, said: “I hope the pamphlet and poems will offer some good company in places which can be lonely.”

Over 200 poems are available on the Poems for... website, many of them bilingual. The poems in the CNWL pamphlet were selected from those Poems for… collections, with the express intention that the pamphlet should be displayed in healthcare settings and will be freely available wherever CNWL provides its services.

Claire Murdoch, CNWL Chief Executive, said: “Many of the services we provide begin, not at the door of the treatment room, but just outside that door - in the waiting room. We hope these poems and photographs will  offer some human touch there. While poetry cannot replace a doctor, it can help in other ways, speaking to the whole person during what may be a difficult time.”

The Poems for ...project has been running for over ten years, funded by the Arts Council of England, the Department of Health, the Foreign Office, the King’s Fund, NHS Estates, Baring Foundation, the Mayor of London, the Poetry Society and the John Lewis Partnership.

Feedback from staff and patients has been very positive, with comments including:

“I have recently seen a Poems for...poster within a palliative care setting which provided a great source of comfort for many visitors.”

“Your effort to bring different languages together helps to gain insight in different cultures. And with surprise we discover how similar we are.” 

For further information or to download a poem from the collection free of charge visit the project's website