Published on National Poetry Day, 3 October by local care provider Optalis, the book celebrates the experiences of older people, providing readers with an insight into the lives of older generations.
The book also boasts endorsement from Sue Holderness, the actress well known for her part as Marlene in Only Fools and Horses. Sue has become a great ambassador for dementia, drawing on her own family’s experience. She has written the foreword for the book, as well as contributing a poem she has composed about her parents.
To celebrate the book unveiling, the social care provider hosted a launch day event at Windsor Day Centre in Windsor. During the event, guests heard more about the project behind the book and had the opportunity to experience a poetry session demonstration.
Optalis, who provide care services across Berkshire, had the concept for the project to give their customers an opportunity to express their feelings through poetry, stimulating the mind. Activities were organised throughout Optalis Older People Services, giving people a range of ways to participate meeting people’s different interests and abilities.
Many of the individuals who have contributed to the poetry book are those living with dementia. It has helped them to share life experiences, and in some instances overcoming some of their challenges with memory loss and communication.
Julia Harris, Optalis Head of Non-regulated Services, who conceived the idea commented; “When you read the poetry book, you become captivated by the art created by our customers. It’s been a cathartic experience, giving them a chance to relive some of their fondest memories whilst being creative.
“To ensure they got the most out of the activity, we supported their creative process by showing them photographs and recording the thoughts that the images evoked. In another activity, we invited them to reflect on their past achievements by considering what their hands would say if they could speak. We also held reminiscence sessions, encouraging people to recollect cherished childhood poetry.”
They continued: “Overall, it’s been an amazing experience. The work in Rhymes of our Times has already enthralled readers, and we’re looking forward to now sharing the inspiring work with the general public.”
The book is on sale in libraries across Wokingham, Windsor and Maidenhead as well as through Optalis for a price of £10. Proceeds raised from the sales of the book will be used to fund equipment that will further enhance the provision of activities across Optalis’ older peoples’ services.