A blustery grey day this week and the lights are on in our village library. Cheerful chatter subsides as a group of people sit in a circle, heads bowed over notebooks, silence only broken by scratch of pens on paper. Some minutes of scribbling follow, then a few sighs, a stretch and a hum of quiet comments.
It is the monthly meeting of our community “Writing for Wellbeing” group. As always I am amazed and humbled as everyday problems, big and small, are shared and transformed through the medium of creative writing.
In London, also this week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics met to launch its first report “Wellbeing in four policy areas” – transport, environmental planning, education and health, and arts and culture.
The connection between these two gatherings? A focus on creating a society which feels well, better even, through participating in creativity. “Experiencing arts and culture has demonstrable positive impacts on wellbeing… This is particularly true of participatory (as opposed to purely spectator) activities.” page 56 of the report.
Scientific studies around the world are showing the benefits to physical and mental health through expressive writing. In the library we sit surrounded by books whose authors attest to the positive health benefits of writing. Matt Haig, popular teen and adult fiction writer, including “The Humans”, says “writing saved my life”.
One writing group member remarks “the problems I came in with haven’t gone, but I see them differently after writing”, an experience echoed by many others.
For the London politicians wellbeing economics is about maintaining a happy, healthy workforce. Parliamentary Report chairman David Lammy MP commented “wellbeing matters more, not less, in times of economic difficulties.”
I could be cynical and say “it’s just about saving money”, but this week in the library I have seen it’s all about saving lives.
I wrote the piece above as an assignment for the Introduction to Journalism online course I am currently doing. The hardest part of the assignment was the word count of 300 words! I could write so much more…..