Porters from Guy's Hospital will perform poetry they have written to an audience of hospital staff, patients and visitors.
The porters will perform their poems alongside Simon 'Mole' Porter, professional spoken-word artist Indigo Williams and poet Jasmine Cooray,
The free event, which takes place on National Poetry Day, marks the culmination of an exciting arts project that aimed to give the porters a creative voice through the means of poetry and highlight the important work they do within the hospital community.
The project was funded by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, as part of its Performing Arts programme.
The 'Porters' Poems' project was launched in January 2010. It involved acclaimed spoken-word artist Simon 'Mole' Porter holding weekly workshops with the porters of Guy's Hospital to help them develop and write their own poetry.
The workshops taught the porters how poetry can act as an outlet for their personal experiences and stories of hospital life. It also provided them with the opportunity to engage in a fun, creative project that helped boost their confidence, raise their profiles and enrich the daily lives of everyone they come into contact with.
Porters play a vital role throughout the hospital. During a typical day, they walk dozens of miles around the hospital site, guided from job to job by a team of operators who communicate with them via radio. Their jobs include delivering blood specimens and medical equipment around the hospital and moving frail and often very ill patients between different departments and wards.
Porters also regularly move patients who have died from the ward to the mortuary. During their intense interactions with patients and their families, the porters can help calm people's fears, put their minds at ease and even add a little laughter to what might otherwise be a difficult day.
Tom Matthews, 28, from Southwark, is one of the more experienced porters at Guy's Hospital. He regularly deals with patients going for dialysis or chemotherapy. Tom said: "If someone's going through a bad patch, you have to know when it's OK to try to cheer them up. It's not easy."
Tom once made friends with a dialysis patient who was very ill but really wanted to go to a football match, so Tom took him to a Millwall game. The patient later died and Tom had to collect his friend's body and take it to the mortuary to prepare it.
Tom plays guitar and has been involved in writing music for his indie band 'The Influence' for many years. He has written a couple of songs based on his portering experiences in the past. When he heard about the poetry project, he thought he would be able to use some of his song material, but soon found himself writing new material instead. He has written a song, 'A porter's job is never done', which he also performs with his band.
Tom said: "I've always enjoyed poetry and find that it stimulates my brain while I'm at work. At times there may be a delay on a ward and I'll find myself making up a small verse about something. I also feel that it helps to show that there's more to the porters as individuals than meets the eye."
Yvonne Farquharson, Performing Arts Manager for Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, said: "The charity's Performing Arts Programme aims to improve the quality of healthcare delivered at Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals by enhancing the environment for patients, staff and visitors.
"We are delighted to be working with the porters of Guy's Hospital on this unique poetry project because we believe it's vital to highlight the hugely important role that they play in creating a positive experience for patients during their time in the hospital.
"The project provides the porters with the skills and creativity they need to share their experiences of hospital life, whilst giving them the opportunity to develop their communication skills and have fun!"
The porters' poems are being transformed into works of art by professional artist Jess Wilson and exhibited in Atrium 2 throughout October. There are also plans for a poetry anthology to be published.
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