Podcast: Creative Competition 2016 – Maureen

Meet some of our Creative Competition entrants:

In the first of a series of Creative Competition themed podcasts, we meet Maureen as she shares her poem ‘Scotland’s Unpaid Carers – A (Scottie) Dogs Life?’, her entry to to the Creative Competition 2016, Voices of the Experts.

Maureen talks about her involvement with Renfrewshire Carers Centre, and the source of support it has been to her in her role as an unpaid carer for her husband. Re-discovering her creative talents through the centre’s arts and crafts group, Maureen crafts beautiful felt Scottie dogs, paints and has taken up writing poetry again. Utilising her creativity has been a helpful outlet and as Maureen describes ‘therapeutic’.

Scottie Dogs made by Maureen at the Renfrewshire Carers Centre
Maureen with one of her paintings

Tell the King – James McMahon

Tell the King

A subtle hint of jealousy is coming through your eyes
The sparks will fly, the flames will rise, your tenderness is my surprise.

Hold me,
You may mould me,
But don’t control me like the rest.
Repair me,
And spare me
As I prepare to leave the nest.

You conjure up your nasty tricks from the safety of our distance.
D-day comes, your heart attack, you’re overcome with no resistance.

Free me,
Will you release me?
I’ve got something more to give.
Save me,
Have you forgave me?
Tell the King I’ve gotta live.

Lost are years of journey’s missed – paths never chosen.
My body’s changed, my accents gone – my mind at times feels frozen.

Hear me,
Harmonies with me,
I’m gonna find this voice,
Show me,
How you rock & roll with me,
With any kinda noise.


‘Tell the King’ was an entrant to the Poetry category of the 2016 Creative Competition. We asked entrants to tell us what a fairer and healthier Scotland looks like to them by entering into our Poetry, Short Story, Film, Photography and Arts & Crafts categories.

Creative Competition 2016 Highly Commended – Short Story

‘You are the expert…What does a healthier Scotland mean to you? What does a fairer Scotland mean to you? What changes would make a difference to your life?’ This year’s Creative Competition theme was ‘Voices of the Experts’ and our entrants told us their views by submitting to our Poetry, Short Story, Photography, Film and Arts and Crafts categories.

Creative Competition 2016 Highly Commended – Susan Robinson

The Potion – Susan Robinson 

There was once a not-at-all wicked witch called Willa, who lived in Scotland, possibly not all that far from you.

Willa did not live in a crumbling down old cottage in the middle of a dark and scary wood. She lived in a very ordinary one bedroom flat in town. But she may as well have lived hidden in the heart of a dark wood, for she never saw or interacted with her neighbours; those busy people who bustled by, immersed in their own lives and worries.

Willa lived alone. She went about her daily business, hiding behind her billowing black cloak and pointed hat. People saw these accessories and made snap judgements: that Willa was wicked; mad; best to be avoided.

No one said “Hello” or “Good morning”, or “It’s a bit cold for the time of year” to Willa. Instead, they averted their eyes, hurried on past, and tugged their children away, telling them not to stare.

There was something different about Willa, she was not like everyone else, and that made people nervous and uncomfortable. They ignored Willa to her face, and speculated about her behind her back, spreading wild rumours that further fuelled the fear of her.

So Willa made her way through life, silent, alone and misunderstood. She was not wicked, nor dangerous, just very sad and lonely, battered and damaged by life’s events, and struggling on the best way she knew how.

Willa did not like going out, being stared at, and spat at, people turning their backs on her and walking away, the whispered accusations that floated her in the cold wind. But nor did she like staying in, staring at the same four walls as they closed in on her, flicking on day-time television that depressed her still. Her flat was dusty and laced with cobwebs, not for any atmospheric witchy effect, but because she was depressed and too tired to dust or vacuum. And anyway, with no visitors, what was the point in cleaning anyway?

The irony, Willa reflected was that people feared her because they did not understand her, and thought she might turn them into a toad. But if they had bothered to ask her, Willa would have explained that her form of magic was aimed at helping and healing. She could rustle up a potion to clear up teenage acne as quick as a flash, and even knew a poultice which could help reverse male pattern baldness.

She just wanted to help people, if only they would let  her. She longed to feel useful, to utilise her skills and talents. But look at the state of her, she thought in despair. How could she help others if she couldn’t help herself?

She had not done any magic in such a long time. The depression she suffered from sapped her magic from her along with her energy. Was it possible that she could create a potion that could make things better?

As she considered making a potion, Willa felt a small flicker of hope within her. A feeling long dormant, but still there, waiting to be coaxed back to life.

Willa thought long and hard about the ingredients she would need. Newt’s eye, frogspawn and rat’s tails wouldn’t do, nor would herbs picked under a full moon. This would require serious ingredients and a lot of hard work and energy. Willa decided she was up for the challenge, and set to work.

Willa’s Potion for a Better Scotland

  • Take society’s attitude to anyone who is ‘different’ from them for whatever reason (be it experience of mental health conditions, disability, race, religion, gender, nationality, sexuality or age) and boil in a large cauldron over a hot fire. Bubble until stigma and prejudice begins to evaporate. It could take some time (anything from several hours to several generations) for stigma and prejudice to fully evaporate.
  • Once evaporation is complete, a solution of tolerance and understanding will remain.
  • There may still be lumps of ignorance with the solution. To counter this, add a generous dollop of education, laced with empathy, and stir vigorously in a clockwise direction for ten minutes, until the lumps of ignorance have been dissolved, leaving behind a smooth bright yellow potion.
  • Take a handful of disparate individuals (rinse off any residue of isolation and loneliness), and using unicorn hair, being to make connections between them. Continue weaving the individuals together with unicorn hair to form strong, multiple bonds, including friendships, social networks and a sense of community and belonging. Add to the yellow potion and stir counter-clockwise.
  • Take access to mental health services and multiply provision by ten, using the incantation “must do better”. Take mental health service provision and use a mortar and pestle to grind out any unnecessary bureaucracy and excessive waiting lists, and discard. Add in responsive, appropriate services (including crisis care), and compassionate knowledgeable professionals. Blend together to form a smooth blue paste.
  • Take a well funded, flexible third sector, which can provide personalised support and act as a valuable safety net to fill any gaps in statutory provision. Add to the blue paste above.
  • Sprinkle good information and signposting about services over the top.
  • Add the blue paste to the yellow potion in the cauldron and stir clockwise seven times over a low heat, until the mixture turns bright green.
  • Finally, take a handful of opportunities for everyone to be able to access green space, sports and leisure, culture and education.
  • Add to the green potion, stirring counter-clockwise five times.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool before drinking.

Exhausted, Willa stirred the potion one last time, before removing the cauldron from the fire. It had taken a long time and all her energy, but if it worked, it would be worth it.

With trepidation Willa drank the potion. At once she felt hope and optimism flood through her body. Things felt different. It had worked!

But it was not enough for Willa to drink the potion. She needed everyone to drink it: the people on her street; the people who work in shops, and hospitals; who drive buses; children; parents; teachers; policy-makers; decision-takers; politicians; big business bosses – everybody!

And so, Willa summoned all of her remaining strength and created a huge storm cloud over Scotland. Using every ounce of her power, Willa made her potion rain down, over the towns, cities, villages and countryside of Scotland. She hoped that her potion would land in the right places and be absorbed. She wanted children to splash in puddles of tolerant understanding and to drench commuters with a sense of community and compassion.

It rained Willa’s potion for an hour, and then worn out, she collapsed into a deep sleep, wondering if it was possible, that once the cloud had passed and the rain had stopped, she might wake up to a brighter tomorrow.

Ffion’s Story

Dear Tommy

On Monday the 7th March I talked to the children and teachers at my school in our school assembly, I told them about your work, your lovey mum and your #Tommyontour. I also showed them one for my personalised dementia pledge trees. I have been making these pledge trees for my mummy’s work friends I make a different one for each person, I put their name on it and l do my signature, the person then writes their own pledge on the tree. I hope my trees make a difference to people who live with dementia.

My lovely pops (grandad) had dementia and l would like more people to undgrandaderstand dementia and always be nice to people with it, my pops always put his thumb up when things were OK. He was so kind he would give some of his food to his favourite blackbird the blackbird visited every meal time. My mummy misses pops a lot.

Here is a photo of my mummy with pops his thumb is up.

From, Ffion Age 9 from Shropshire.

To find out more about how to make a pledge visit the ALLIANCE’s Dementia Carer Voices website

A Letter To My Eating Disorder

Winner of the Health and Social Care Academy’s Creative Competition 

Dear Ed,

Who do I think I am? You know I’m unable to answer this question and you know the anguish and pressure I place myself under to try and answer this daily. It was you who robbed me of my sense of self, you who manipulated, hid and tarnished Megan. How ironic it is that you open your letter to me with that question.

Read More “A Letter To My Eating Disorder”

Creating health and wellbeing in the communities we care for – a student nurse’s perspective

When I saw the Health and Social Care Academy was hosting an event with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on creating wellbeing in Scotland, I knew that I had to attend. As a student nurse in my final year writing my dissertation on health inequalities, the opportunity to watch politics in the moment on such pertinent health and social care issues was too good to resist.

Read More “Creating health and wellbeing in the communities we care for – a student nurse’s perspective”

Creating Wellbeing – What is needed to transform Scottish Society so that all citizens are able to thrive?

Last night (Tuesday 27 October) First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP delivered the Health and Social Care Academy’s inaugural lecture. The First Minister addressed an audience of over 400 people, including health and social care professionals, third sector representatives, individuals who are disabled, living with long term conditions and their unpaid carers, at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. The lecture, titled ‘Creating Wellbeing – What is needed to transform Scottish Society so that all citizens are able to thrive?’ was followed by a question and answer session with the First Minister.

Read More “Creating Wellbeing – What is needed to transform Scottish Society so that all citizens are able to thrive?”