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Dementia and the Power of Words

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 4th March 2014

English PEN: Dementia and the Power of Words
Wednesday 12th March, 6.30-8pm

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA

Cost: £4

English PEN, the founding centre of a global literary network, is holding this special event which will take an in-depth look at how writers and artists are working with people with dementia, with a focus on the written word.

Writer and BBC presenter of The World Book Club and A Good Read Harriett Gilbert will chair the discussion about the possibilities and challenges of writing, reading and listening projects for people with dementia. The Reader Organisation's London Project Manager Penny Fosten will be taking part in the panel, speaking about our work sharing reading with people with dementia and in care homes around the UK.

The Reader Organisation has been reading in a range of dementia care and older people's care settings since 2006. Our project workers read literature, typically poetry, in weekly read-aloud sessions which allow members to listen the texts in a relaxing group environment. The groups provide a means of stimulation and social engagement, as well as helping to improve quality of life. Our research partner the Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems (CRILS) has published a report evaluating the impact of shared reading in reducing the symptoms of dementia, which can be found on our website.

Penny will be joined by Susanna Howard (Living Words), David Clegg (Trebus Project) and Dr. Myra Barrs, former Co-Director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and the partner of poet James Berry. The evening will end with readings of James Berry's poetry by author and poet Malika Booker.

Tickets cost £4/£2 for English PEN members. Visit the Free Word Centre website to buy your tickets and see the English PEN website for further information.

Recently, our Library Memory Groups for people with dementia and memory loss in Wiltshire in the South West were featured on BBC Radio Wiltshire. Rhiannon Fitz-Gerald visited one of the groups at Warminster Library, talking to some of our group members about the positive impacts shared reading has had on their lives and to those who they care for. You can listen to the excerpts at the links below:

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