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Winner of the first 'Jo Cox Poetry Prize' announced | 25-Sep-17

The winner of Carers UK's first 'Jo Cox Poetry Prize' has been announced, following a month-long focus on the loneliness experienced by unpaid carers led by Carers UK as part of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.

The award for poems exploring loneliness was launched in honour of the former Batley and Spen MP's work tackling isolation through conversations across communities.

The winner of the prize is Catherine Graham, from Newcastle on Tyne, who cared for her mother for 10 years before her death, aged 90, in November last year. The two are pictured here.

Having followed the work of Carers UK and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness closely Catherine Graham explained how much the accolade means to her:
"I cannot tell you how proud and humbled I am to win the Jo Cox Poetry Prize after all Jo Cox has done to support the lonely in society.
"As a carer, you don't have to be alone to feel lonely. Little things, those times when your mother doesn't smile back at you, can make you feel so alone, so isolated. I would tell other carers feeling overwhelmed to write a few lines of poetry, tear it up if you choose, to process things too difficult to say. In my own experience, poetry has rescued me."

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness, launched in January 2017 following Jo Cox's death, sees MPs and leading organisations come together to shine a light on loneliness and share the positive steps we can all take to combat it.

Research released by Carers UK's during the Commission’s spotlight on carers found that 8 in 10 (81%) carers felt “lonely or isolated” and a third (29%) felt “uncomfortable” discussing their responsibilities with friends or family.

Carers and former carers were invited to contribute poems for the special award as part of Carers UK's creative writing and photography competition, with both well-established and newer writers sharing their personal reflections on isolation and caring. The poems were picked by award-winning poet Cheryl Moskowitz, with the remaining winners of the competition set to be announced on the 24 October.
Catherine’s poem will be included in Carers UK's creative writing anthology, set to be released on 24 November and sponsored by Specsavers Healthcall. The book will include winning entries from the competition, available to preorder here. All proceeds will help to fund the charity's work supporting those caring for ill, older, or disabled loved ones.

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