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High Chelmer partners with poet to help raise mental health awareness

High Chelmer is collaborating with poet James McInerney to spread positivity and encourage further conversation about mental health issues by displaying poetry throughout the shopping centre.

Empowering and inspiring messages are being featured in prominent positions throughout the malls of the Chelmsford shopping centre, enabling visitors to take a moment for reflection. Longer-form poetry will also be visible and will be updated monthly.

The messages are intended to counteract negativity associated with the modern world and brighten people’s day, as well as opening the public’s eyes to the possibilities of healing through poetry. The art form is known for its therapeutic purposes and has been used as a supplemental treatment for mental health issues for centuries.

Anyone who has travelled on the London Underground since Christmas, may have seen James’ work which often includes handwritten quotes. Inspired by the positive feedback from commuters who felt the poetry added positivity to their day, he is now leading a project to get more poetry into public places.

Carley Beck, deputy centre manager at High Chelmer, said: “I experienced James’ poetry on the London underground first-hand and wanted to give the same boost to our visitors. In a society dealing with ever-increasing mental health issues, we feel it’s important to offer uplifting experiences where possible.

“With thousands of visitors to the centre each week, we have an opportunity to reach a lot of people and as a venue at the heart of Chelmsford, we strive to support our community in any way that we can,” Carley added. “We’re delighted to be working with James and happy to be able to showcase his impressive work. We think his inspiring words will have real impact among High Chelmer shoppers.”

Today, James’ work is visible in tube stations throughout London, train stations across the country, as well as in public parks, schools and now shopping centres with more places being added on a weekly basis. And its popularity is spreading like wildfire.

James, who used poetry himself to escape depression, has long raised awareness of subjects like mental health and depression through his work and is passionate about the impact poetry can have on dealing with feelings, James explains: “Poetry has always been an amazing outlet for me to get rid of the daily heavy.

“We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and if we don`t find a way to process and deal with it all, it can become overwhelming. Since running this project, I have also learnt so much more about myself too. It has taught me that if we put our mind to it, we are capable of so much more. Self-belief is everything.”