Renowned poet, author and playwright Patrick Jones has recently undertaken an artistic residency at the RCPsychWales. This residency sees Patrick working with the college on a series of commissioned works to promote the impact of the creative arts on well-being and mental health to the public and Welsh public services alike.
Patrick’s first undertaking in his residency with the college has been a Wales-wide, highly anticipated project entitled #ThisIsMyTruthTellMeYours which highlights the experiences of those living with or affected by Dementia. This brilliant project is bringing together a series of spoken word features focussing on people’s experiences of the condition, through cycles of song.
#ThisIsMyTruthTellMeYours project launched in February 2019 has been working in two parts - one is the online collection of people's stories, poems, and memories of their experiences of living with or caring for someone with dementia, and second the series of workshops facilitated by Patrick across Wales where he has engaged with people experiencing dementia (inc families and carers) and they have shared their experiences, writings, memories together in a group. We have also been actively encouraging the general public to participate in this work via our social media platforms by inviting them to send their stories for us to add to the increasing online collection.
Patrick Jones has a rich history of involvement with arts and health projects, having worked with The Forget Me Not Chorus, whose members are individuals living with Dementia, on the ‘My Song My Story’ project. At the start of his residency with us, Patrick delivered exploratory, creative writing workshops with clinicians, and upon the announcement of his collaboration with the Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales, Patrick was featured by BBC Wales Today to talk about the links between art and mental health, as well as aspirations for the partnership. With regards to his work around dementia and the college generally, he had this to say:
“It’s fantastic to be able to transfer what I know and what I’ve learned in creating this new program, and to those whom I’ve met over the years and been fortunate enough to collaborate with, please get in touch, it’s a fantastic opportunity to be involved in such a positive programme. The Arts are paramount and a latent tool waiting to be used in the treatment of those living with Dementia. Seeing people whose lives have been blighted by dementia ‘light up’ as they sing the songs of yesteryear is one of the most moving and life-affirming moments of my life.”
It is anticipated that work from the project will be published and performed with leading Welsh musicians to stand as a living testament that highlights the nature of Dementia, and importantly demonstrate just how important creative arts to healthcare. We are also currently in discussions with the National Museum of Wales about the #ThisIsMyTruthTellMeYours project in terms of how they can help us with the archiving, displaying and promoting of the finished work, as we feel it documents a significant part of the lives of a number of people living in Wales.
We are so pleased to have Patrick with us and are very much looking forward to developing further projects with him. His work has been well received and embraced throughout the college, summed up perfectly by Professor Keith Lloyd, our chair:
"I’m really delighted to welcome Patrick to the College, this work is both exciting and invaluable. No one is immune to experiencing mental ill health, how we manage our mental health is so important and the Arts have a part to play in promoting positive mental well-being."
If you or anyone you know would like to contribute to the #ThisIsMyTruthTellMeYours project, or would like any further information, go to www.thisismytruthtrellmeyours.co.uk for more details. We would like to collect as many contributions as we can, so please feel free to share and help us to spread the word!