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The power of poetry to create hope during difficult emotional times is to be celebrated at a reading event.

The Words of Hope evening today (Tuesday, 24 September) is part of a month of activity during September and October to promote positive mental health and reduce the number of deaths by suicide across Greater Manchester.

It is part of the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, which aims to encourage open conversations about suicidal feelings.

More than 100 people are expected at the poetry reading evening at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, which is being held as part of the “Month of Hope” taking place between World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September and World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

The event is being compered by Salford poet “J” Ahmed and will include poetry readings from a wide range of people who have found that writing, reading and sharing their poetry has helped them through difficult emotional times.

“J” said: “Writing is therapy, sharing is healing.

“I know this from my own experience and that of other people. I personally used writing as part of my recovery process and I very much encourage others to write for therapy to share when ready.

“Poetry is a form of expression which can help energise the people around them to share thought, feeling and emotions. This is very life-affirming and it helps people to heal.”

Recent graduate Lauren Barclay, who set up a mental health support group called Youth Mental Health Matters when she was at school, is among those who will read submitted poems.

The group provides support to school teachers and pupils to recognise mental health difficulties and provide support to a consistent standard. Lauren set up the group when she and friends at school found they did not get the support they needed. More recently she became involved in the Shining a Light on Suicide campaign after losing a friend to suicide.

She said: “I find poetry is a good way to express my thoughts, but I haven’t shared it with other people before.

“I think it will be very empowering for everyone there and I hope it will help to start conversations and raise awareness about mental health and what we can all do.”

Events and activities are being held across Greater Manchester for the Month of Hope. A “Game of Hope” football tournament and reading of “stories of hope” were held earlier this month at Curzon Ashton FC between teams made of military veterans, bereaved fathers and others whose personal situation make them vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.

Other events include a photography exhibition, vigils, awareness-raising talks and a presence at Pride events in Greater Manchester.

The poetry reading event is fully booked.

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