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 Commissioned The Funder(s)
The pilot, 1997 The 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 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 health NHS Westminster Primary Care Trust (local health commissioning body)
20 poems on learning disability Bequest 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.

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.

In the last few years, 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.

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