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Poetry competition 2017

Image shows a close-up of a smiling Gill Manly, jass musician and permorfer and judge of Healing Words poetry competition

Have you experienced mental health problems, or are you a family member or friend of someone who has?

We’re inviting you to enter our poetry competition, Healing Words, which we’re running in partnership with Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL).

Actress and writer Joanna Scanlan, and CNWL Chief Executive Claire Murdoch, are amongst the judges for the competition. Watch their video introductions to Healing Words.

You can read more about the background to this competition in our news article.


Creativity and mental health

Creativity is known to help people express themselves during the darkest days of their mental illness and throughout their recovery. It helps support self-understanding of mental health conditions.

We want to celebrate the recovery journey by sharing this creativity with a wider audience to help improve understanding, tolerance and respect of mental health problems. We’re delighted to be partnering with CNWL and supported by the University of Westminster on this project.

This poetry competition is to celebrate the success of our Speakeasy magazine where we publish creative writing, poetry and art produced by mental health inpatients.


Entry categories

There are four different categories you can enter.

Darkest days: poems from before the dawn of hope
Good days and bad days: poems from the road to recovery
Being well: poems about more peaceful times
Best illustrated poem: poems with illustrations


Presenting your poem

You can write, record or film your poem (we know some people prefer to record the spoken word or film their entry instead of writing it down). Your poem should be a maximum of 25 lines.


How to enter

Print out and fill in the entry form then send it with your poem. You can:

Email your poem to
Post it to The Advocacy Project, 73 St Charles Square, London W10 6EJ
Hand it to staff who work for The Advocacy Project and they will make sure it’s entered into the competition
Send your recording or film via any messaging software (for example WhatsApp) to 07946 505064

The closing date is 5pm, Monday 11 September 2017.



The poems will be judged by five people including Joanna Scanlan, actress and writer.

Joanna Scanlan, actress and writer

Claire Murdoch, CEO, Central and North West London Mental Health Trust

Alexandra Warwick, Professor of English Literature at the University of Westminster

Melanie Scagliarini, international development worker, blogger and filmmaker

Gill Manly, jazz musician and performer


Watch their video introductions to Healing Words.

We will keep the names of everyone who enters hidden from the judges until the award ceremony.


Awards ceremony

We welcome everyone who enters the poetry competition to an awards ceremony on Thursday 28 September. It promises to be a great event… we look forward to seeing you there!



If you would like to make a donation to The Advocacy Project to help with the cost of this event or our work please contact Judith Davey, CEO: 


For more information

If you’d like more information on the competition, please contact Jo Kay on 020 8969 3000.