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+ Rhymes from the Wise - Poetry and Mental Health Project

In 2023 the Greater Manchester Older People's Network and GM Mature Minds Matter held a series of poetry workshops in community venues across Greater Manchester.  Around 40 people took part. Designed to explore themes around mental health and stigma, these workshops were spaces for creative exploration, connection and a deep sharing. The Rhymes from the Wise, poetry book and video work is the legacy of these workshops. We held a launch event for the book on 8 May 2024.

The Book


You can download a PDF version of Rhymes from the Wise here.

Speaking our Rhymes

Poetry is to be heard as well as read.  We recorded some of our poets reading their poems for you.















Why this project?


This project has the overall aim of promoting mental health and wellbeing amongst people aged 50+ in Greater Manchester.  Using the power of poetry to encourage and inspire people to speak their truth and share this with others, this project builds on our previous campaign work, 'Don't Brush it Under the Carpet' which aimed to raise awareness of older people's mental health.


It is estimated that across Greater Manchester there are over 60,000 older people with depression.  Of these, an estimated 51,000 will have no treatment.

We know from listening to older people that many do not know where or how to get help.  We also know there is a lot of stigma and shame amongst older people in relation to talking about mental health.

This project was started to break down some of this stigma and shame and show that it is 'ok to talk' about these things. We invited people into a warm and welcoming space to talk about their feelings and journey with mental health in a safe and creative way.

The people and the impact

Through poetry we connect, "we look through each other's eyes" and we witness our lived experience.  We know that the impact of creative projects like these can feel intangible.  It doesn't lend itself to traditional outcomes measures.  So we decided to do something different with our evaluation. We took a more creative approach and used a framework based on narrative therapy and the outsider witness principle, to record the impact of this project through a video.  We brought together some of the poets, James and Freddi, who explored with Polly Kaiser (Clinical Psychologist and one of the project leads) how the project connected and resonated for them, sometimes in unexpected ways.  This conversation was witnessed by some of the other poets, who were then invited to respond to what they heard and make their own observations and connections.  Finally, James and Freddi responded to the witnesses, creating a further layer of meaning.  

Impact video - short version (5 mins)

Impact video - full version (1hr 15mins)


What next?

A poem contains within itself a myriad of potential meanings and connections. We hope these poems will be read and shared in many spaces and encourage more people to recognise that whatever our age, we need to speak about mental health. 

Where might these be read or shared?

  • A quiet moment to yourself

  • Shared with friends

  • In a book group

  • By organisations hosting groups for older people

  • In sheltered housing or residential care homes

  • In libraries

  • In older adult mental health units

  • By mental health professionals - to hear the voices of lived and living experience.

  • Featuring poems in a regular newsletter or bulletin.

What you can do


  • Order books and help us share the poems

We want our books to be used for good.  We want them to inspire others and to show it's good to talk about mental health, whatever your age.

If you have an idea for how to use the books and would like to order some physical copies, please contact us at

  • Share the videos at your groups, meetings, or on social media


All the videos are available on our Youtube Playlist

  • Request a presentation or poetry reading


We would be happy to talk about the project or organise a poetry reading with your group where capacity allows.  Please contact to make an enquiry.

  • Share your thoughts and any creative projects you are working on with people aged 50+

We want to hear about any impact the books or videos have had on you or the people you work with.  Has it inspired you to think in a new way or get creative yourself?


Are you working on creative projects with people aged 50+ yourself?  We are looking to organise a creative showcase event at the end of 2024.  Contact us if you would like to share your work, or help facilitate a workshop at the event and help encourage creative approaches to mental wellbeing.   Please contact to make an enquiry.

Thank you

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in
the creation of the Rhymes from the Wise poetry project, including our workshop facilitators: 


J Ahmed (local poet with a passion around mental health)


Polly Kaiser (semi-retired old age clinical psychologist with ‘skin in the game’)


Video work was produced by community media specialists, Yellow Jigsaw.  Yellow Jigsaw also facilitate Talking About my Generation, the UK's first older people's-led news team and regular GMOPN collaborators.


Thanks to Tony Walsh for writing such a thoughtful forward to our book.


Thanks to our funders, Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership who supported this project as part of their Mental Wellbeing Programme.

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