Who paid for what

Here below are the names of the various funding organisations, set against the collections they helped pay for. I should acknowledge immediately that the Arts Council has been far and away the main funder throughout this story, in terms both of frequency and amount.

On the other hand, this project has functioned in an era in which funding was never continuous. You would not obtain funding just to keep developing, or just to keep going. Instead, you had to keep fund-raising for time-limited amounts and for specific goals.

Beneath the chart is a bit of human detail, to add some warmth and curves to the boxes.

The Work CommissionedThe Funder(s)
The pilot, 1997The Poetry Society (Lottery Funding)
50 commissioned poems, all on the subject of waiting. Poems for Waiting. Initially, 200 packs were printed, 1998.The Arts Council of England (“New Audiences” funding)
80 selected poems, including ten for children. Poems for… All Ages.  Initially 200 packs were printed, 1999.The King’s Fund
Re-print of 100 poems, the 50 commissioned poems plus the 50 King’s Fund poems, 3,000 packs, 2000.The Arts Council of England and NHS Estates
Readings in NHS sites across South London, 2002.The Association of London Government
10 bilingual poems celebrating EU Enlargement, 3,000 packs, 2004.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, NHS Estates and the Arts Council of England
35 bilingual poems celebrating diversity, 3,000 packs, 2005. Now called “Poems for…One World.”
The Baring Foundation, Dept of Health, the Arts Council of England
10 bilingual poems for the Mayor of London’s Equalities Report, 2007.
The Mayor of London and the Arts Council of England
60 poems, mostly bilingual, added to the”One  World” collection.  Also included is “These are the Hands” by Michael Rosen, celebrating the NHS in various languages. The collection introduces various pairs of poems, each by or about people from marginalised groups.The Arts Council, The NHS Equality and Human Rights Group, the John Lewis Partnership
30 poems on mental healthNHS Westminster Primary Care Trust (local health commissioning body)
20 poems on learning disabilityBequest from the estate of the late Kim Wolf (who had Down’s Syndrome)

The chart above implies the filling in of large numbers of application and evaluation forms. There has certainly been quite a lot of that, but also there have been donations of significant sums of money that have required no application forms at all and little paperwork – there was just the giving of a lump sum so that work could continue, at least for a while longer. On one occasion, it was agreed at a meeting that one funding body would contribute £10,000 and the other would simply match that. On another, the project received £16,000, the donor’s entire community budget for that year.

I wrote at one point to Sir Nigel Crisp, then Chief Executive of the NHS. I described the project and spoke of its capacity to enhance the waiting room environment. Soon afterwards and for a number of years, we received generous funding from NHS Estates, matched by the Arts Council. This coincided with the emergence of the Arts/Health movement as a prominent force and influence on health policy. The funding made possible the printing of large numbers of the poems. Also, three thousand packs of 100 poems each were printed for distribution round the NHS.

The Foreign Office funding followed a letter I wrote to Denis Macshane, then Minister for Europe. The funding that resulted, from the FCO and the Arts Council,  was associated specifically with the Enlargement of the European Union in 2004. Ten countries joined, that year. We were commissioned to select and widely display a poem from each country, as a mark of respect and recognition. The poet Fiona Sampson helped make the selection.

Funding from the Baring Foundation, matched – as ever – by the Arts Council, made possible a further thirty five bilingual poems “in praise of diversity.” These were combined with the ten EU poems to make up our first diversity collection. It was launched in 2005 by Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate of that time. The venue was the Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal, West London. There was a bilingual reading of some of the poems. Some Ghanaian drummers were there too. Their drums rolled whenever the audience applauded !

The Association of London Government funding made possible several promotional poetry readings in south London health sites. You can see pictures from several of the readings on this web site (see “The Story So Far”).

We were supported in 2008 by the Department of Health’s Equalities and Human Right Group, the Arts Council and the John Lewis Partnership (our first commercial sponsor). Funding from the latter two sources was due largely to the work of Sue Stewart, an independent arts consultant, who we commissioned to fund-raise for us in 2007. Thanks to this last injection of funding, in 2010, 60 new poems were added to the “Diversity” collection, by now called “Poems for…One World”  It brought the total number of languages represented to 50.

More recently, the project has functioned without Arts Council or other sources of core funding, but has turned to more localised funding options. Thus the NHS commissioning body in Westminster made some money available for the mental health collection (called Poems for… Self at Sea), with a view to distributing the result round GP surgeries in that area, for display in local waiting rooms. Thirty poems were produced and the collection was launched in 2015.

Further, a small personal donation enabled us to make a collection of poems on Learning Disability, launched at the same time. The charity “United Response” helped in the production of both these last two collections, and sponsored their exhibition and launch in Paintworks, Bristol, in the Autumn of 2015.

The project’s most recent collection, called “Poems for Rising Ten,” consists of 25 illustrated poems, chosen with children around ten years old in mind. Production costs were minimal by now and these were covered internally.

What People Have Said

Maureen Woolf, Counsellor, North Warwickshire NHS Trust:

“I have used some of the sample of poems you have already sent me for some group work with older people who have depression, anxiety, memory loss or other difficulties. The overall response has been very favourable.”

Tanya Plutzik, widow of Hyam Plutzik, who contributed work to the ‘Poems for…all ages collection:

This is a wonderful idea. It will surely be widely read and will bring comfort and support to many. Thank you for including my husband’s poem ; he would have been delighted to be part of the collection.”

Psychology Dept, Scunthorpe:

“One thing that has been extremely interesting is…our clients have begun to post their own poems on the wall. Some are poems that mean something to them and some are written by the clients themselves.”

Menna Elfyn, poet, contributed work to ‘Poems for…waiting collection:

“It is good to know that the poems are appreciated widely…and that in these difficult times poetry still connects people together.”

Fiona Sampson, poet and editor, helped select ten bilingual poems celebrating the EU Enlargement of 2004:

Your idea’s a wonderful one, crystallizing many of the most interesting initiatives in contemporary literature/ promotion practice. But, more than this, it’s also a deeply human, very profound return to the meaning of poetry. I’m honoured to have been part of it.”

Assistant Head of School, Kent:

“Somehow this lovely set of poems came into my hands; I am delighted with them and am displaying them outside my classroom for maximum impact. I also intend to use them in lessons and get younger students to illustrate as appropriate.”

William Radice, writer and academic, translator of Rabindranath Tagore, whose work is reproduced in ‘Poems for …one world’ :

“Wonderful to see this and I do congratulate you on a really excellent project.  It has huge potential.”

MV Prescott, Consultant in A & E Medicine, Royal Shrewsbury Hospital NHS Trust:

“I am absolutely delighted with the pack and will be commencing a project in the A & E Department at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to display these on a rotating basis.”

Tomaž Šalamun, poet, Slovenia, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I’m very honoured and delighted you have chosen my poem. Very grateful for your marvellous idea.”

Annette Duncan, Programme Area Leader, ESOL 16-18 Courses, Lewisham College:

“You kindly sent me a set of the bilingual poems last year…The poems proved very useful classroom materials and we went on to study other poems. The result is a book of poems, written by the students themselves, in 2 languages – their mother tongue and English. They wrote some truly amazing poems and really enjoyed the process as well as the finished product…”

Juris Kronbergs, Latvian poet, editor and translator, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I am happy and proud to take part in your project ! It’s a wonderful way of making poetry useful in society, outside the groups of afficionados, libraries and universities !”

Catherine Maloney, Lewisham College:

“Thank you, the poems are wonderful ! We will put them up for staff and students to enjoy and think about…I think your collection will inspire staff and students alike.”

Susan Hillyard, Buenos Aires, Argentina, teacher trainer :

Thank you for your poems and for putting them up so generously on the site. I am training 20 teachers to teach English through Drama in Special Education all over the city of Buenos Aires. We are working in very poor conditions without resources and making all our own materials. I am passing your site on to my teachers and am sure they will find some interesting materials…

Eliot Weinberger, US, translator of Octavio Paz, whose work appears in the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I’m sure that Octavio would have been very moved to know that his poem was appearing in these kinds of public spaces…good luck with this excellent project.”

Michael Rosen, UK Children’s Poet Laureate 2007-2009 – his poem celebrating the NHS is included in the “Poems for…one world” collection:

“I think that this is a stimulating, exciting and important project… Many, many thanks … I am excited and delighted that my poem is appearing in several languages [here]. It shows that we can talk to each other just as we try to care for each other… I think the project needs all the help it can find.”

TN, Governor, HM Prison, Grendon and Springhill :

“Are you still supplying Poems for…the wall ? We would be interested in a pack, as previous poems have been much appreciated by prisoners, staff and visitors to the prison.”

Andrea Lee, Physiotherapy Receptionist, Warminster Community Hospital, Wiltshire:

“I have received the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection and I am totally delighted with them…Some of the scripts are beautiful in their own right, even without the translations. One of the most striking aspects is that no matter what language and ethnic background, our hopes, feelings and dreams are the same. Thank you once again.”

Sir Andrew Motion, FRSL, Poet Laureate 1999-2009, launched the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection and later our first website. Also contributed a poem :

I greatly admire what you’re doing…and am delighted that the NHS has supported you so well…[This] is an inspired scheme…I’ve been delighted to be part of it….”

David Hart, Poet, commissioned and edited 50 poems for the ‘Poems for…Waiting’ collection, contributed one of his own:

“The pack of poems has come, Rogan, and it’s an excellent piece of work again ; there really has been nothing like these packs before. We have the chance here to open people’s lives to each other.”

Chikwendụ Anyanwụ, Igbo poet and Catholic priest, contributed work to the “Poems for…one world” collection:

“Your idea is a very noble one.”

JP, Hospice Visitor :

“Dear Mr Wolf, I have recently seen a “Poems for…the wall”  presentation folder within a palliative care setting which provided a great source of comfort for many visitors. May I take this opportunity to thank you and all the contributors. Are these poems available for other health and social care settings?”

Hana Amichai,  widow of Yehuda Amichai, Hebrew poet whose work appears in ‘Poems for…one world’  :

“It is a beautiful and very important project, I am glad that Amichai’s poem is included.”

Dr. Charles Cantaloupo, Penn State University, USA, translator of Reesom Haile, Tigrinya poet, whose work appears in the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection :

“As the translator, I authorize you, please, to go ahead.  I hope this is enough since your project is great and should not be held up a second more than necessary.”

MIND worker in Camden, London:

“I love reading the poems which are displayed in the reception area at work. I like the variety and I like taking a moment to be still and reflective whilst reading the poems. My current favourite has been photocopied so I can read it from my desk ! It’s a really worthwhile venture.”

BB, NHS cancer patient, London, 2013 :

“I just want to tell you that in 1997 I read and copied one of your poems, “The Stream of  Life” [by Tagore] in the waiting room in Hammersmith Gaeni dept. I had just finished chemo for ovarian cancer. I still find this poem inspiring and think displaying poems is a great idea, especially in health settings. I plan to take them with me on retreat. Thanks.”

Caroline Carver, poet, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…waiting” collection:

“It is good news that the NHS are using the poems so well, and to know they are reaching the right audiences.”

Dr S. E-L, Clinical Psychologist, NHS Traumatic Stress Counselling Service, London :

 “…About half our patients come from other countries, generally as refugees fleeing torture and persecution…Coming into contact with poetry in their own language whilst waiting, is a really positive way of helping non-English speakers feel a sense of welcome and inclusion. Many thanks.”

Sue Eardley, Mayday University Hospital, Croydon :

“The poems are… being changed around regularly, and patients often comment on them in passing….Thank you again for the initiative, and please keep us informed of any new schemes, or if there is a way we can encourage other organisations to benefit from this great idea.”

Antjie Krog,  South African poet and translator, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“They arrived!!!! the posters. and what a treasure, my head is bristling with ideas…thank you so so so much.”

School Librarian, King Fahad Academy:

“Thank you so much – we love them!…I am planning to laminate all the poems, and have a Poem of the Week in a prominent place in both the boy’s and girl’s schools.”

UA Fanthorpe, poet, contributed work to the ‘Poems for…waiting’ collection:  

“I hope that the project continues to go from strength to strength…and to encourage people to read poetry and to feel better at the same time is indeed a worthwhile task – specially perhaps in times like these.”

Gareth Evans, teaching in a school in Shanghai:

”…it seems to be an important thing, at least to me, in an international setting, to know that the poem-posters on my classroom wall are also on walls around the world.”

Deputy Chief Exec, Yarrow Housing:

“Since our clients have learning disabilities, for some the written word is not accessible. However, some clients have been very taken with the poems, selecting their favourites and saying how good they are.”

Lakshmi Holström, translator of two Tamil poems in the ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“The thrill is in seeing Tamil as part of a spectrum of languages, each making its own wonderful contribution …[Poems for…the wall] is an impressive and beautiful project, which should continue to grow.”

Jayne Greathead, poet, contributed work to ‘Poems for…waiting’ collection:

“It’s a lovely feeling to know my poem has been used in this way.”

Mourid Barghouti, Palestinian poet, Cairo, contributed work to ‘Poems for…one world’ collection:

“I am delighted to be part of your creative and beautiful project.”

Lyubo Nikolov, Bulgarian poet, contributed poem to the ‘Poems for…one world ‘ collection:

Best of luck in your noble task.”

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the UK National Health Service, 2010-2014 :

Your initiative has made a valuable contribution to making NHS waiting rooms a more welcoming and sensitive environment for patients and the series of poems celebrating diversity has been particularly well received.

Susan Brown, Chair, “Arts for Health”, Milton Keynes :

“We now have poems in more than 85% of GP surgeries in Milton Keynes….So, thank you for sending us all those [poem-posters]. I hope you agree, it has been a success story and we are delighted with the results.”

The Right Hon Tessa Jowell, Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, 2001-2007:

“I think this is a wonderful project, giving people something meaningful and personal to consider, in what can be an anxious place.”

Sir Michael Jay, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, the UK Foreign Office, 2002-2006 :

“Diversity is an excellent theme, and especially relevant to the challenges we all currently face to build a cohesive society. We would like a set of the poems to use at appropriate FCO events…”

Selima Hill, poet, contributed work to two of the project’s collections.:

“…Congratulations to you too ! ( I Like the idea of making waiting rooms “less lonely”) PS. Another place where people wait is stations…”

The Royal College of Nursing, from their Bulletin, June 15th , 2011 :

“The RCN is backing this project which supplies poems free of charge for use in hospitals and health centres up and down the country.”