A poetry centred charity has reached more than 1,500 young people with their online workshops and services during the lockdown, writes Melissa Kasule.
Poetic Unity based in Brixton is run by poet and recording artist Ryan J. Matthews-Robinson, also known as Ragz-CV.
It has been forced to close their doors and move all their services online during the pandemic.
The organisation usually works with youths up to the age of 25 to encourage personal and educational development through poetry.
The charity event – The Poets Corner, where they held live spoken word performances at the Brixton’s Black Cultural Archives on Wednesdays for the past five years, will instead take place on Instagram live.
Including, Quarantine Poems on Fridays, where poets are allocated with new topics to write about every week and are shared on Poetic Unity’s social media platforms.
Concerned for the welfare of the communities’ mental health in the midst of a pandemic, Poetic Unity also introduced their weekly service – The CommUnion on Sundays to give people a space to talk about how they feel in a safe and friendly environment.
Limited free one to one to sessions are provided via Skype and a group discussion is broadcasted on mental health on Instagram live.
Ragz-CV said: “The young people we work with have been greatly impacted by the lockdown with many becoming more prone to anxiety and depression.
“Some have tried their best to make the most of this new way of living by writing poetry or working on a new skill, but in general, there is a real fear of the unknown among the youth and a question of will things ever be the same?
“At first it was very difficult transitioning to online as all our services are provided face to face with the young people we work with.
“But luckily we have always had a strong social media presence which has made the transition a little easier as we have started to make more use of functions such as Instagram Live, Zoom and Skype.
“One of the main positives about providing our services online is that we can reach young people all over the world. We have been really impressed with the unity and incredible poetry the community has created in these strange times.”
You do not need to be a professional poet to get involved.
For more information, visit Poetic Unity at www.PoeticUnity.org.uk or @PoeticUnity on Instagram.
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