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Image: Still Moving Media

Beyond Words

Beyond Words reaches out from The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival to young people with severe mental or physical illness. This is the fourth year of the programme.

Take a look at the success of last year.

I’ve become more okay with who I am as a result of this project. I don’t need to pretend to be anyone else. My parents would say it’s been life-changing as it’s amazing how far I’ve come.


In any given year, over 600 children In Gloucestershire are unable to access mainstream schooling due to conditions like mental health disorders, cancer, epilepsy, and orthopaedic, neurological and respiratory disorders. The majority of these young people are aged between 14 and 16.

Working with the Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service (GHES), Cheltenham Festivals is giving every KS4 student the opportunity to work over time with a writer-in-residence, either in person or via a digital learning platform.

The benefits of this project have been immense, and in some cases life-changing.

Annalise Price-Thomas, Head of Service, GHES

Cheltenham Festivals has enlisted successful author Caleb Parkin as the writer for the project in 2018/19. Caleb Parkin is a day-glo queero techno eco poet & facilitator, based in Bristol. He won second prize in the National Poetry Competition 2016, first prize in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, various other competition shortlists. His poems are published in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Under the Radar, Butcher’s Dog, Coast to Coast to Coast, Strix, Magma and elsewhere, online, in filmpoetry, performance, at schools, universities, festivals, museums and science centres.

He completed an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes through Metanoia Institute in summer 2019, has previously worked in media production for the BBC TV and Radio, and as a teacher and Senior Inclusion Worker in schools and Pupil Referral Units. In 2019 – 20 he’s been awarded Arts Council funding to explore queer ecopoetry and ecosexualities in his first poetry collection.

The workshops are taking place in inspirational venues including Sudeley Castle and Museum in the Park.

The young people’s writing is being professionally published in an anthology which will be launched at Waterstones in Cheltenham and showcased at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2019.

Read more about Beyond Words as part of our outreach work at Cheltenham Festivals.

To find out more about the project contact

This six-year project is kindly supported by St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation