Aviva Community Fund
Over the last few years InterAct have developed our work across England and Scotland, delivering our reading service in Newcastle, Bristol, Manchester and crossing the border in August 2017 to now read in Glasgow. The next step in our journey is to begin delivering our service in Wales and this community award would help make that possible. The awards are decided by public vote. Your votes will help us secure up to £25,000.
Wonderful support from Peter Capaldi for InterAct
Current Dr Who Peter Capaldi has given his full support for our work and is now an Ambassador for the charity. In a statement, Peter had the following to say about our work.
"As someone who has seen first-hand the devastating effects of strokes on both friends and family I am proud to become an ambassador for InterAct Stroke Support. By employing professional actors to read and spend time with stroke sufferers, InterAct provides a singular service. Literature that reverberates personally helps stroke victims re-connect with themselves, as well as bringing welcome and uplifting support to them and their loved ones.
The truth is there is simply not enough support or information available for stroke sufferers and their loved ones, and the work of InterAct aims to complement occupational and speech therapy, adding a welcome extra layer of support.
At a time when help is really needed, InterAct Stroke Support does just that.
Please help them."
The Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2017
Tuesday 1st August 2017 saw the launch of the sixth biennial Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition hosted by the award-winning charity InterAct Stroke Support.
Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2017
The short story competition was first held in 2008 and the challenge remains the same: writers are requested to write a piece, in any genre, in no more than 1000 words. The winner of the competition will receive £1000 and will be commissioned to write four further stories for InterAct Stroke Support over the course of one year.
This year the competition will be judged by esteemed novelist Margaret Drabble who will present the award at the winner’s ceremony in 2018, date to be confirmed.
Huge success of Kaleidoscope event
Kaleidoscope, the art exhibition of work by Caroline Smith and Non Worrall has been a huge success for InterAct.
Over £4500 has been raised for InterAct via the exhibition that occured at Burgh House Hampstead. Max Stafford Clark, one of our patrons came and talked very movingly about his stroke, his experiences in hospital and his engagement with InterAct during his hospital stay. The charity is very grateful to everyone that made is such a success but especially to Caroline and Non for their superb work, and to Max for his super talk.
Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition Awards Ceremony
We are delighted to have received just under 200 entries for our Short Story Competition, raising over £2,500 to support InterAct's service.
Chief Judge Dame Margaret Drabble is currently in the process of picking her top three stories, and the winner of our competition will be announced on Friday 6th April 2018 at our Awards Ceremony at The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond.
Masonic Charitable Foundation - Grant Giving Ceremony
InterAct Administrator Helen Daniels and InterAct Actor Barbara Wilshere were thrilled to attend the Masonic Charitable Foundation Grant Giving Event at the beautiful Freemason's Hall. The £15,000 we have received will help us fund readings in three hospitals for a full year.
Community Liaison Officer Announced!
We are so pleased to announce that the fantastic Fayon Dixon will be joining the InterAct team as our Community Liaison Officer, working with stroke activity co-ordinators to provide a programme of longer-term projects focussed on drama, creativity and the art of storytelling. More updates on our community work soon, watch this space!
Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2017 Winner
day 6th April we hosted our Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition Awards Ceremony, where Dame Margaret Drabble crowned Shelley Vincent our winner with her story, 'I Am Definitely 5!'
Her story will be available to read online in due course.
Congratulations also to second place - James Dunford, with his story 'The Diorama' and third place - Chloe Banks, with her tale 'Wildflower'.
Our sincerest thanks go to Dame Margaret Drabble for judging the competition, InterAct Chairman Ian Talbot for presenting the event, InterAct Ambassador Oliver Ford-Davies for speaking about the importance of our service, Sonia Timlett from Chiswick Nursing Home for speaking about how our work is vital to her patients and, of course, InterAct founder Caroline Smith for bringing the event together!
West Midlands Readers Network
InterAct are incredibly grateful to the
West Midlands Readers Network for funding and supporting the charity's service in Moseley Hall Hospital in Birmingham. We're very pleased to be partnering with the Readers Network on some exciting upcoming projects and we wish to thank Rochi Rampal, from our Birmingham hospital team, for helping foster this relationship. Watch this space for updates!
Support from InterAct Ambassador, Catherine McCormack
Last month InterAct were delighted to be able to show ambassadors Catherine McCormack and Lolita Chakrabarti our work in St Thomas' Hospital, London.
Following on from the visit, Catherine sent through a statement of support:
"My grandmother had several strokes in her later years. Having recently seen the work that InterAct performs in hospitals and stroke clubs around England, I only wish she had been able to benefit from their service.
Watching at close quarters the interaction between one of InterAct's professional actors and various stroke sufferers, I couldn’t help but be moved. From one patient closing her eyes and smiling at the story of an estranged couple reigniting their love for one other, to another lighting up at hearing a traditional Portuguese song (the country of the patients origin), to a man being read a witty take on life by the brilliant comedian Dave Allen; the range of positive responses was eye-opening and very humbling.
I believe that the people who are read to by InterAct actors all benefit in some way. They are not just patients with an illness but human beings with a whole inner life that is being stimulated, and not just by the story they are being read but by the ability of the actor to bring the story to life. It must be easy in hospital to feel like you are just an illness because that is what everyone around you is treating, but having someone to communicate with in a different way, having 15 minutes of your day where you are not just your illness or a patient, seemed to me to be invaluable.
After seeing the work I left feeling that InterAct's service should be seen as a vital part of the rehabilitation process, a part that stimulates the patients' imaginations, and from what I witnessed, left them extremely thankful for the connection."
Style for Stroke
Nick Ede has just launched his latest '
Style for Stroke' campaign which is dedicated to helping those affected by stroke by raising funds and awareness of stroke worldwide one fashionable step at a time.
The latest 'Not just another charity tee' collection has just launched and profits from sales will be donated to both the Stroke Association and InterAct.
We're incredibly grateful to Nick for choosing to support InterAct and raising awareness of stroke. We absolutely love the new range, and you'll catch some snaps of our team in their tees pretty soon!
Get your tee today!
A Wild and Precious Life
A Wild and Precious Life is an anthology of new fiction, poetry and essays by writers in recovery from addiction, physical illness and mental health issues and features a story from our first ever Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition winner, Alan McCormick.
Mary Oliver famously wrote, ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” We’ve all taken our minds and bodies to dark and dangerous places. We are all in recovery, in one way or another, from loss, from mental and physical illness, from addiction. But how do we come back?
This collection of new writing offers answers to that question, tackled by 50 people who have been to the brink, or witnessed someone they love do the same, and found their way home. It will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The anthology is edited by Lily Dunn and Zoe Gilbert, authors and co-founders of London Lit Lab.
In order to publish the book the authors have teamed up with publisher Unbound and are crowdfunding for their fundraising target. You can support this terrific initiative by making a pledge and buying the book in advance.
October 2018 Diary Date: International concert pianist Geoffrey Saba at St John's Smith Square
Geoffrey Saba, who has long been a supporter of InterAct, will give a recital at St John's Smith Square on Friday 19th October 2018, 7:30pm.
Geoffrey's programme is part of his series “The Lure of the East”, exploring the influence of music from the East on composers from the West.
The evening promises to be an exciting mix of the well-known and the less familiar, the less familiar items including the British pianist Leonard Borwick’s exquisite transcription of Debussy’s first orchestral masterpiece Prélude a l’après midi d’un faune as well as a premiere of Krisna Setiawan’s Ladrang Basa Priyo, a work based on Central Javanese gamelan.
Debussy & Ravel were among the musicians who heard the sound of the Javanese gamelan for the first time at the 1889 Paris Exposition, an experience that permeated their subsequent music and which influenced the course of much Western music. Debussy wrote in 1895 “… Do you not remember the Javanese music, able to express every nuance of meaning, even unmentionable shades, and which make our tonic and dominant seem like empty phantoms for the use of unwise infants?”
Debussy/Borwick Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1894/1914)
Debussy Preludes Book 1 (1909-10)
Krisna Setiawan ‘Ladrang Basa Priyo’ (2015) - first performance
Ravel Sonatine (1903-05)
Tickets are available to book now.
A Thousand Word Photos
InterAct Stroke Support is delighted to be partnering with a new project '
A Thousand Word Photos', a scheme which invites photographers to share a photo with a writer who, in turn, is asked to write a short story of 1000 words inspired by the image they receive. The stories and their accompanying images are then published online for the public to read.
We regularly find that having images to accomany our stories and poetry can act as a positive additional mental stimulus for stroke patients and so we are delighted to be working with 'A Thousand Word Photos' to bring their new short story collection to stroke survivors.
For more on 'A Thousand Word Photos' check out their
InterAct Reader to speak at 10th Annual International Arts and Health Conference in Port Macquarie, Australia.
Rose Sawkins (right) with National Hospital nurse, Joyce Bonsu.
We are delighted that InterAct reader, Rose Sawkins, will be attending the 10th Annual International Arts and Health Conference in Australia this November where she will be discussing and exploring the InterAct service, in particular the ways actor and stroke patient connect and ‘co-respond’ during a dramatic reading in a process that can help re-humanise and optimise the healing process. Australia Arts and Health recently published an article on Rose's experiences as a reader and the charity's work. Why not
take a look!
InterAct to become a Co-op Local Cause in Brighton
InterAct Stroke Support have been chosen as a Co-op Local Cause for the year for their work in the Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton.
Every time members shop at the Co-op, 1% of what they spend on Co-op branded products and services helps fund community projects. Members can shop at any Co-op Group stores across the UK to raise money for InterAct's cause.
Members can choose which causes to support by signing into their membership account or by calling the membership helpline on 0800 023 4708.
Co-op stores local to the Royal Sussex Hospital are on St James Street and Kemp Town and we're thrilled to be working with them to increase our support and our local presence.
Kieran Crilly: 12 Races in 12 Months for InterAct Stroke Support
InterAct are delighted to be supporting ex-nurse, Kieran Crilly, who will be running 12 races over the next 12 months to raise money for InterAct Stroke Support.
Kieran's wife, Candice Mansell, is an InterAct reader at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Royal London Hospital. Kieran first met the InterAct team as a Charge Nurse on the stroke rehabilitation unit at Mile End Hospital and, following his retirement in 2016, has decided to take on this epic challenge to support the charity's work.
Kieran's target is to raise £3,000 which would fund 100 one-to-one InterAct bedside reading sessions across the UK:
'Every donation, no matter how big or small, is warmly welcomed. I know that for a substantial part of my target I will be "relying on the kindness of strangers" but I sincerely hope you will strongly consider donating.'
His first race is the Greenwich Park 10k on Saturday 19th January and we will be there cheering him on!
Please consider donating towards Kieran, his 2019 challenge and the work of InterAct Stroke Support.
Michael Simkins becomes InterAct Stroke Support Ambassador
We are thrilled to announce that actor and author, Michael Simkins, has accepted our invitation to become an ambassador for InterAct Stroke Support.
Before Christmas we introduced Michael to our hospital service at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery, London. As well as taking on the role of ambassador, Michael is also becoming an InterAct reader and is joining the team at the National Hospital to deliver our one-to-one bedside reading service.
We asked Michael for his thoughts since joining the charity:
am absolutely delighted to have been asked to become an ambassador for InterAct Stroke Support. Until I was approached in 2018 I knew only a little about this wonderful charity , although actor friends and work colleagues who volunteered from time to time had told me of its efficacy, and of the wonderful benefits that could be achieved for patients by reading to them during their stay in hospital.
But I finally saw the evidence for myself when I shadowed two InterAct readers at the National London Hospital last December. During these sessions I met many wonderful people and heard their stories and by watching and hearing the experienced readers (and eventually trying it for myself) I witnessed at first hand the benefits of one-to-one dialogue with people struggling to surmount and conquer the effects of a stroke.
Individuals, young or old, who have suffered a stroke often face a daunting battle to reframe their lives, and to achieve a measure of their former mental dexterity. Reading to them seemed to help both their mind and their spirits. In every case of meeting a patient, I was constantly surprised and delighted by the interaction between readers and patients. It seemed to me that human company, and the chance to be drawn into a story or anecdote - or even a simple joke - was a source of vital stimulation to them.
It is therefore a huge honour to be representing this wonderful charity in its work, and I hope that in some small way I will be able to be able to increase InterAct's profile and to spread the word about the efficacy of its work."
Nick Ede joins the roster of esteemed InterAct Ambassadors
It is with great pride that we can confirm that television presenter, public relations and brand consultant and highly regarded philanthropist Nick Ede has accepted our invitation to become an InterAct Stroke Support Ambassador.
Nick visited Homerton Hospital, London in late 2018 to see the work in person and was particularly moved by the service’s ability to connect with patients on an emotional level.
Style for Stroke is a charity foundation established by Nick to raise funds and awareness for stroke survivors. We are incredibly grateful to Nick for donating a portion of the funds raised via this initiative to InterAct and we’re looking forward to working with him in the future to develop and expand our service.
Grant from Millenium Stadium Charitable Trust
We are thrilled to have received a grant for £2,500 from the
Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust to supprort our work in Cardiff Llandough University Hospital.
InterAct Stroke Support begins delivering Cardiff service
InterAct are delighted to have begun delivering our one-to-one hospital reading serivce in Cardiff Llandough University Hospital where we will be reading twice a week. Thank you to the hospital staff, our new team of InterAct readers and all of our supporters and donors who have helped make this happen. This is our first team reading in Wales and we hope there will be many more!
InterAct's training team with some of our new readers in Cardiff Hospital.
We are recruiting!
InterAct are looking for new team members to join their Birmingham team!
Are you a professional actor based in Birmingham? We're looking for new recruits to join our Birmingham Moseley Hall Hospital reading team. If you're interested and would like to find out more, email:
Style for Stroke: Live Like You campaign
The fantastic InterAct actor Ana Torre joined up with the
Style for Stroke team to talk about our work and stroke awareness as part of their brand new 'Live Like You' campaign. Style for Stroke founder, Nick Ede, believes all stroke survivors should be proud and confident in their own skin, encouraging every beautiful stroke survivor to #livelikeyou.
June: the month of conferences
It was a busy month for us here at InterAct where we were thrilled to attend a variety of conferences discussing the arts and health.
On Monday 10th June we joined hundreds of
arts and health practitioners at the Southbank Centre for the inaugural Creative Health Conference. We engaged in discussions on how creative projects can support positive wellbeing, the importance of the recovery environment itself, the difference between loneliness and social isolation and the future of social prescribing.
On Wednesday 26th June we attended the Loneliness in Mental Health Network conference on 'Understanding Loneliness in people with mental health problems'. It was brilliant to open up the debate on this issue of 'self-stigma', on how social prescribing can be proved to be cost effective and to hear briefs on upcoming research in to loneliness and depression.
Both discussions gave us a huge amount of food for thought, in particular with regards to our developing community programme and how we can better support the stroke survivors attending as well as engage with more stroke survivors in the local community.
Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2020
It is almost here! Thursday 1st August 2019 will see the launch of our seventh Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition.
The competition asks writers to write a piece in any genre (although suitable for a hospital environment) in no more than 1000 words. The winner of the competition will receive £1000 and will be commissioned to write four further stories for InterAct Stroke Support over the course of one year. The closing date for submissions is 5pm on Monday 2nd December 2019 and first place will be awarded at the winner’s ceremony on Tuesday 3rd March 2020, InterAct’s 20th birthday.
This year the competition will be judged by esteemed novelist Dame Margaret Drabble. Entries can be submitted by email or post and the submission fee is £15.00 per story.
Competition terms and conditions.
Previously shortlisted competition entrants have been published alongside authors such as Ruth Rendell, Toby Young and Nell Dunn in our illustrated collection of short stories and poems,
Game of Thrones star Owen Teale meets up with InterAct Cardiff Team
InterAct were delighted to welcome charity ambassador and Game of Thrones star, Owen Teale, to Llandough Hospital in Cardiff where he spent a day on the stroke rehabilitation ward and read to stroke survivors.
Owen Teale said he was "very, very moved" to perform for the stroke survivors, hoping the readings would "open a door" for patients at University Hospital Llandough in Vale of Glamorgan.
Owen gladly performed works by Dylan Thomas, George Orwell and Shakespeare and patients and hospital staff hugely enjoyed the experience.
Speaking about InterAct's work, Tabitha Mansel-Thomas, senior specialist speech and language therapist at the hospital, said: "I think it really boosts the patient's mood. I've had patients said they feel so much happier - it lets them let go of negative thoughts...more and more, there's a recognition of the value of arts and health. Now it's seen as more integral to someone's well-being - a stroke impacts not just on walking and talking but you as a person."
The First InterAct Stroke Club
We are very proud to announce the formation of the first official InterAct stroke club!
InterAct has been working with over 50 stroke clubs across the UK for many years, continuing the support we offer at hospitals beyond being discharged. More recently, we have begun running community projects, where we go out into the community to bring stroke survivors together, to make something creative, and to just have some fun.
These projects usually go on for about four weeks, while our actors meet up regularly with stroke survivors to facilitate whatever the group decides to make. In the past, groups have come up with such a huge range of projects. For example, one group recorded themselves candidly discussing their lives and strokes, set to music; whereas another decided to write and perform their own soap opera short play, full of tumultuous affairs and big drama.
When our most recent community project in Blackfriars, London, was due to end, the members had greatly enjoyed the experience and asked to do another project. We were more than happy to oblige, so this Southwark group brainstormed another project and we stayed on with them for another four weeks.
(InterAct Southwark Group with InterAct team)
Once again, when their second project was finishing up, they told us that they had formed fantastic, genuine friendships and were having so much fun that they still didn’t want it to end.
We were so overwhelmed with the amount of positive feedback we were getting from this amazing group of people, so we put our heads together here at InterAct to work out what we could do for this Southwark group. Because they felt as if there was no accessible club or group for them to go on to in their local area where they could continue to work with other stroke survivors, we came to the only obvious solution; it was time for InterAct to take the leap and start the first InterAct Stroke Support stroke club.
This club has now been running for over a month and we are so proud of how it has gone so far, and excited to see where this takes us next!