Two poems written by a University of Worcester graduate and former nurse are featured in a newly released anthology celebrating the work of the NHS.
These Are The Hands is a compilation of poems written by current or former NHS workers, and was originally written to raise funds for the NHS. It is now raising money for NHS Charities Together’s urgent Covid-19 appeal. The anthology is supported by former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen, who has written the foreword and the titular poem.
It features two poems written by Margaret Adkins, a former nurse of 36 years, who graduated from the University of Worcester with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2018.
Margaret, 60, from Malvern, said: “I’m incredibly pleased to be part of it, but what’s nice is not being an individual voice, but one of many. For me the biggest part of being in the NHS was always colleagues. It’s a job that you can’t do on your own; it’s very much a team. The poetry reflects that. There are so many diverse experiences and it’s that feeling of being a part of something much bigger than you. We share the highs and lows and now we’re sharing that with the public.”
Margaret’s two poems, First Last Offices and Your Quarrel, were chosen from around 600 pieces. First Last Offices recalls Margaret’s first experience as a student nurse of preparing the body of someone who has died. The second poem, Your Quarrel, reflects on her time working in a GP practice, and “the struggle with fitting in gold standard care when you’ve got limited time to do it in”.
The anthology has been co-edited by former University of Worcester humanities lecturer Deborah Alma and is available from most online bookshop outlets and from publisher Fair Acre Press.
Describing the anthology, Deborah said: “I think the timing of the release gives it a much deeper resonance. It will also get under the skin of those health professionals, so we understand what it feels like and bring that home to people. It’s to give those working in the NHS a voice because they don’t speak about how they feel.”
Margaret worked as a nurse for 36 years, 27 of those in the NHS. She first trained as a nurse then moved into midwifery, working in the community in Birmingham and later Malvern. She went on to work as a GP practice nurse and then as a sexual health nurse for the Brook Centre in Birmingham.
However, when that Centre closed, Margaret decided it was time for a change. “I’d always wanted to do creative writing and I’d got to a point where I thought it will never happen. But when this happened and the rug was pulled from under my feet, it was the catalyst.”
She began her studies at Worcester in 2015. “I loved those three years,” she said. “It was a time for reflection as well as learning. Learning in the arts rather than the sciences was just a revelation; it was looking at the world with different eyes. And I had fantastic lecturers who were so inspiring.”