Long Covid Support Group in Hyndburn

I’ve previously posted about my experience of long covid, since getting ill with the virus back in March 2020. I still have long covid, and have been taking part in a long covid peer support programme pioneered by Brain Health Breakthrough. The programme is now expanding and I’m very pleased to have been asked to co-facilitate this new peer-led support group for people in Hyndburn with long covid, organised by Brain Health Breakthrough, with funding from Hyndburn Community Champions. The programme is free of charge. The first session is this Tuesday 8th June at 1pm on Zoom. To join the programme or find out more email karen@brainhealthbreakthrough.co.uk

There are a number of online support groups for long covid, but this one I have found to be particularly helpful. It’s very much about developing life skills and finding a way forward in a positive direction, as well as an opportunity to share our struggles and support each other. I’ve written in some more detail below about how the programme has helped me through long covid. As well as sharing and discussion, the programme includes a guided meditation each session, a recording of which can also be accessed anytime.

The long covid peer support programme with Brain Health Breakthrough has helped me to feel calmer and sleep better. The meditations are something positive I can do when I feel unwell or worried, which feels empowering. There is a balance of acknowledging that our bodies have been dealing with something very challenging which will take time to heal, alongside reminding us we can shift our focus from panic and frustration onto gratitude for our bodies working so hard to fight covid and recover, and onto the positive progress we have already made.

Thanking my body for all its hard work feels transformative. It reminds me that I have the power to recover. It’s a form of self-love and self-care that feels more than relaxing. It feels nurturing. Covid was a terrifying experience and it can still be scary having long covid symptoms and wondering if and when I’ll be well again. The meditations and the support Karen offers in the group feel like being held in a safe space. 

As well as the mutual support, having access to the recorded meditations is reassuring as I always have something to turn to when I’m struggling with symptoms. The meditations help me tune into my body’s needs, and enable to me to be more aware of how much I need to pace myself. This has helped to reduce my relapses and become more aware of warning signs in my body that remind me I need to slow down, improve my self-care, or seek further medical advice before symptoms get more severe.

The deep relaxation I feel during the meditations is sometimes more refreshing than sleep, and has been especially important to me at times when symptoms have been scary and made me feel tense. I have more energy and breathe more easily when I feel properly relaxed. I have taken part in this programme alongside seeking advice and treatment from my doctor, and the combination has really helped me to gradually improve my symptoms, to feel positive but also patient about my ability to recover.

Online peer support has really helped me to cope with long covid, but I especially value this programme as it helps to make me feel more positive. Listening to others talking about their symptoms can be helpful as it reminds us we are not alone, and it’s important to have a space where we can share our struggles and fears, but sometimes it can also lead to feeling more frightened and despairing if it’s not followed by a more positive focus. This programme is different because as well as peer support, the meditations and the focus on listening to our bodies in order to improve self-care is very positive and this positive state of mind helps me to feel stronger and more well. I have gained an approach to self-care that is a tool for life.

Click HERE TO WATCH a video on Brain Health Breakthrough’s Facebook page of people with long covid (including myself) talking about how the programme has helped.

Click on this link to find out more about Brain Health Breakthrough’s Long Covid Peer Support Programme

Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau 4 with Luci:d

I’m delighted to be hosting another Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau poetry event this Thursday 27 May 7-8.30pm. We are still online for now, so you can join us from wherever you are. We have two incredible featured poets for you, Luci:d and Amy Lee Tempest. Below is a little more info about each of them. We will also have a poetry open mic, advance booking only. There are currently a couple of open mic slots still available. See the booking page link for details.


Luci:d is an award-winning writer and spoken word poet. Her work has appeared on BBC, The Social Distancing Festival and various podcasts. Her feature sets have included Farrago at The Poetry Society. Her poem, Clap, featured alongside contributions from celebrities Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) and Leigh-Anne Pinnock (Little Mix) in the #copingtogether campaign. Her work has been published by Extinction Rebellion, Litro, and won first prize in the Writers Forum magazine international short story competition.

Here is Luci:d’s poem ‘Clap’

Burnley based poet, Amy Lee Tempest has been performing since 2018 across her local poetry scene. Her experimental poetry sequence, ‘Wallpaper’, was nominated for the Lancashire Arts Festival award, and later exhibited and performed as part of Burnley’s arts festival ‘Openings’, 2019. She was the poet in residence for Burnley’s Literary Festival later that year and more recently was a guest at Scotland’s literary rave, ‘Sonnet Youth’.

Here’s a taster of Amy performing one of her poems:

Tickets are £5 or, if you’re able to offer a little more support to keep these events running, there is a £7 ticket available. The event is hosted on Zoom, and starts at 7pm, with Zoom open from 6.45pm (19.00 UTC and 18.45 UTC respectively)


The Bureau Centre for The Arts is a vibrant new volunteer run Arts Centre in the heart of Blackburn, providing versatile space for arts activities, theatre, music, cultural events and community participation.

Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau with Steve Pottinger 25th March

I’m very excited to announce Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau part 3 is coming up soon on Zoom on Thursday 25th March 7-8.30pm.

Our headliner will be the legendary Steve Pottinger, whose poem Fatima went viral last year in lockdown. Steve’s poetry has a tendency to go viral, as he quietly hits the nail on the head with his social commentary, delivered with both sharp wit and warm compassion.

Steve Pottinger is a poet, author, and workshop facilitator, and a founding member of Wolverhampton arts collective Poets, Prattlers, and Pandemonialists. He’s an engaging and accomplished performer whose work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, and he’s a regular contributor to online poetry platforms. He’s performed at Ledbury and StAnza poetry festivals, at the Edinburgh Free Fringe, and in venues the length and breadth of the country, from Penzance up to Orkney. His sixth volume of poems, ‘thirty-one small acts of love and resistance’ published by Ignite Books, is out now.

what other poets have to say about Steve:

‘muscular, passionate, emotional, rational, compassionate’ Brenda Read-Brown

‘pathos, grace, and stone-cold contempt for the powerful and immoral’ Laura Taylor

‘ready as needs be to caress or deck humanity in all its beautiful stupidity’ Jonny Fluffypunk

‘Bostin.’ Spoz.


We will also have two more brilliant featured poets performing for us on the night.

Mark Ward is a talented Blackburn poet who has had numerous radio and TV appearances. He has an impressive collection of published work and is a founder of Haworth Festival of The Arts. He has recently been working with Kick Down The Barriers, doing poetry writing with refugee and immigrant communities in Blackburn.

Mark is a poet and writer from Blackburn. He has published a number of books and pamphlets including two poetry collections: Thunder Alley and The Visitor’s Book (Penniless Press Publications) and A Guide to Historic Haworth & the Brontë’s (Hendon Publishing). He’s worked with a number of individual artists and organisations, including, The Wordsworth Trust, The Bronte Parsonage Museum, Signal Film & Media, The Lakes Arts Collective, Lancaster & Morecambe City Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council, and Moving Mountains.

He was a founder of the Haworth Festival of the Arts and recently wrote and project managed the exhibition, Lodestar, at the Bureau Centre for the Arts, Blackburn. He has appeared on TV and radio including Made in England, BBC1, Lakes on a Plate, Channel 4 and Accents, ITV Granada Reports. He studied for a Masters at Lancaster University, holds a Screenwriting Certificate from the Met Film School and writes a blog My Backyard, about people and place.


Bradford poet Sharena Lee Satti ran a poetry workshop for us recently and we are delighted to welcome her back to perform. She created a beautiful, inspiring poetry video which was broadcast on the big screen at City Square in Bradford on 8th March for International Women’s Day and which has also gone viral on YouTube.

Check it out here: #choosetochallenge #iwd poem by Sharena Lee Satti

Sharena is a poet and independent artist from Bradford whose inspiring words have been inscribed on park benches in Bradford to uplift local residents on their lockdown walks. Nominated for the British Indian Awards in 2020 and as one of the ’21 of 2021′ creatives most likely to impact Bradford’s cultural scene, Sharena is a familiar voice on local and national radio. Her poetry collection She was published by Verve poetry press in 2020. Her work focuses on social and environmental issues.

We will also have poetry open mic slots available, bookable in advance by emailing janey@bureaublackburn.co.uk

Slots are four minutes each, and open micers do also need to buy a ticket via the ticketsource link.

Tickets are now on sale and open mic slots available to book. We expect this to be a popular night, with such an amazing line up, so get yourselves booked in! If you’d like to know more, see the ticket booking page link below.

Click here for the Rise! Ticket booking page, with full details of the event and performers

The Rise! programme is supported by funding from Arts Council England

Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau workshop 2: Finding Your Voice with Sharena Lee Satti

Our next Zoom workshop for Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau will be Finding Your Voice with Sharena Lee Satti on Sunday 21st February 2-4pm. We’re really looking forward to this and we think it’s going to be a lovely, heartwarming afternoon. Tickets are on sale now at £5 each, via ticketsource

Here’s what Sharena says about the workshop:

“We have welcomed a New Year and overcome such a difficult one together

Join me for this creative poetry workshop

I want us to take this time

This space

To create

A piece of poetry

Releasing what is inside

Let’s connect to ourselves to our feelings to start the healing

Just like leaves that fall seasonally we need to allow what needs to leave us too

The workshop is open to everyone, with an open mind and willing to try something that may be new to you. Listen to Sharena Lee Satti share some of her work and her creative process in this online space, a safe welcoming space for anyone who wishes to join.

Poetry is a great way to support our wellbeing and to uplift our mood and improve our health through this self-healing cathartic process of creating writing

I look forward to seeing you all”


Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau with Joy France

Happy New Year to you all! I’m very excited to announce our next online Rise! Spoken Word at The Bureau event is coming up soon on 21st January 2021. Our headliner will be Joy France, also known as the battle-rapping nanna. You may have seen her interview last year on BBC Breakfast, or in a Nationwide advert (she’s featured twice!), or heard her on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live on 5th December last year. She can hold her own in the fiercest battle rap, but you couldn’t meet a lovelier person. Her creative space at Afflecks in Manchester, although unfortunately closed during lockdown, has been a nurturing and welcoming space where anyone can hang out, do creative stuff and connect with others.


Joy France photo by Natasha Hawthornthwaite

Joy France is a multi-award / slam winning poet, writer and all round creative who is proud to be a magnet for the gloriously weird. She engages her audience with deft (and often daft!) use of words.

Joy discovered her creativity and passion for performance poetry in her mid-50s and says “having silenced the doubting voices in my head, I have now found my own voice and will never again be silenced”

She is Creative-in-Residence at Afflecks Palace in Manchester and Poet-in-Residence with United Against Injustice. She performs and organizes events at festivals and in unusual locations. A short documentary “Joy Uncensored” by Northern Heart Films tells the story of how she went “From Retirement to Battle Rap” recently won Viewers Award at Hebden Bridge Film Festival.


As well as our headliner we have two brilliant featured poets on the night—Tony Curry and Richy Integer.

Richy Integer

Richy Integer is a writer, performance poet and singer-songwriter from Southport in the North-West of England.

Inspired by UK hip-hop as well as spoken word artists such as Kate Tempest and Polarbear, Richy Integer mixes the two disciplines and adds a dash of humour and a good dose of social commentary.

Equally at home performing acapella or over a beat, his one-man spoken word poetry set includes a rap retelling of Aesop’s Fables for 21st century Britain and a furious diatribe against internet memes.

Richy is a well-known face on the Southport and Liverpool poetry scenes and was a finalist at the Liverpool Slam “Headliners” event in 2019.


Tony Curry

Tony Curry is a performance poet, playwright, workshop facilitator, soundsmith and enabler. His solo spoken word shows include Brit Boy, Complicit Relations, Moving and The Odyssey, and he is the host of Word Central, Flapjack Press’s monthly open mic night at Manchester Central Library. His play the Teddy Bear was performed at The Contact Theatre in 2012. His work has been exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum. He has produced two collections ‘The Noble Savage’ and ‘Tall Tales for Tall Men who fall well short’, both published by flapjack press.

“The ‘our town’ of Tony’s poetry is our town too. The smells that he evokes – fish and chips, beer and cigs, blood and spunk – these are our smells too. This is our poetry, these are our poems. They smell of home and friendship.” – Tony Walsh AKA Longfella, Glastonbury Festival Poet in Residence 2011



I will be hosting the event and sharing a couple of my poems, and we will also have a poetry open mic. Tickets for the event are £5. To book a ticket or open mic slot PLEASE CLICK HERE