Call for Submissions “In Our Own Words”

A team of academics, linguists and writers based at Queen’s University Belfast are currently working on an exciting AHRC-funded research project exploring how dementia is written about in the novels we read. As part of this project they’ll be publishing a short booklet of writing by people living with dementia. The “In Our Own Words” booklet will be distributed to doctors, healthcare professionals and other key workers in the hope that it might give them a small, first-hand experience of what it’s like to live with dementia. The team are looking for people living with dementia from across the UK and Ireland who’d like to contribute some writing to the booklet. This is a great way to share your stories, thoughts and experiences. The team are looking forward to hearing from you.

You can send a short piece of writing to Jan Carson via her email address Submissions can be up to 400 words long and should give the reader a little glimpse of your own experience. You might want to tell a story about something that’s happened to you since your diagnosis or talk about what it’s like to live with dementia. You might want to share somethings you wish other people knew about dementia or talk about the people who offer you support or even share some of the things you’ve recently learnt about yourself. Feel free to write in your own style. You can even write a poem if you like. 

The team can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to include all the pieces submitted. It will depend upon how many submissions they receive but they are very keen to read and consider your work. Please mark your stories “In Our Own Words” and don’t forget to include your name. The deadline for all submissions is April 30th 2021. The booklet will be published over the summer. All contributors will receive a copy and a chance to join in with a special online celebration event.


Online Creative Writing with the Alzheimer’s Society

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be collecting contributions for our forthcoming “In Our Own Words” pamphlet which will provide a vehicle for people living with dementia to share their own thoughts and experiences. This pamphlet will be circulated amongst healthcare professionals and other people working in areas where they have regular contact with those living with dementia. It’s hoped the pamphlet will increase awareness and begin conversations about what it’s like to live with dementia every day. (More of this later. Watch this space).

In the run up to the pamphlet’s publication, our Outreach Officer, Jan Carson has been facilitating some online writing workshops with people living with dementia. For the last two sessions we’ve been graciously hosted by Julie McCaughey and James Erskine of the Alzheimer’s Association who introduced us to some of the people who regularly participate in their online conversation groups. They proved to be an extremely chatty and very imaginative group of individuals. It’s fair to say we did more laughing together than actual writing but we still managed to come up with some remarkable work.

Over two 90 minute Zoom sessions, 16 participants worked with Jan to share their stories, write and chat through ideas. We listened to some readings together: two postcard stories and a Billy Collins poem. The workshop’s theme was objects. Each participant brought a special object and developed a piece of writing, explaining what it was and it’s significance. We found out about travel experiences, family dynamics, favourite pets and memories of work amongst other things. We were even treated to an impromptu performance on the Banjo-lele (which we were reliably informed is a cross between a banjo and ukulele. Whatever it was, it sounded great).

Both sessions were an absolute treat and we’re very grateful to Julie and James who worked hard to make them possible. It’s not easy to find means of connection and community during these strange Lockdown times but our hours together felt almost as warm and companionable as an in person workshop might have done. We’ve been in a good mood ever since. We’re looking forward to sharing more information about the pamphlet soon and some details on how you can get involved.