Inclusion in the Community
North West

The North West Poetry Lab focused on working with young offenders and prisoners, as well as a local poetry group, a library and a school, encouraging access for everyone and supporting inclusion in the community.  In this way the project was an outstanding example of how communities can work collaboratively, incorporating all types of participants from a variety of ages, cultures, backgrounds and abilities, to produce a collection of poems that are completely diverse and represent the whole community.
Poet Mike Garry worked with participating groups, creating and discussing poetry around the theme of Future and encouraged them to think and write about their hopes and dreams for the future of Warrington.
Mike Garry is a poet whose work focuses upon the beautiful ugliness of the city and its people.  His heroes are the underdogs, the outsiders, the people the glossies airbrush out. He has worked on residencies in Strangeways prison, the Big Issue and Trafford Mental Health and most recently six children’s homes in Manchester. 


To kick-start the Poetry Lab, an open-mic session was held in Golden Square Shopping Mall on National Poetry Day 2005, giving local poets the chance to showcase their creativity and express their dreams for a future Warrington.


At HMYOI Thorn Cross, after consultation with prison staff, the project began with a performance to over 100 offenders, and an explanation from Mike about the project and the importance of reading and writing to them. 15 young offenders then went on to take part in workshops with Mike, working on their own poetry as well as accessing and discussing existing poets.
Word musician
Rhyming riddler
Knowledge giver
Song talker
Prison performer
Young offender


Mike worked with a Year 10 poetry group who had taken part in the successful National Poetry Day event in the Shopping Mall, as well as a Special Needs group and ran a drop in poetry workshop service in the library. The workshops created a large bank of poems around the theme of Future, and focussed on improving literacy.
Fame and Fortune
His name repeated, his name well known
His fame, his fortune had thrived and grown.
His privacy ripped from beneath his feet,
The crowds, the press, he could not beat.
His reclusive soul did weep and scream,
Yet to the crowds, his eyes did gleam.
All he did wish for was a life of his own,
Where nobody knew him and his house was a home.
He will scream alone, in the dark he will cry,
His every move recorded by the prying eye.
The fame, the fortune, the rock and roll lifestyle, this isn’t who he wanted to be,
Where’s his wife, his family, his happiness? Now all he wants is to be free.
His life’s a mess, his life is fake,
And the cuts are still there in the morning when he wakes,
It’s all over now, this must come to an end,
It will end with him alone, with no friend.
With drugs and drink the deed is done,
He has lost his round, the public have won.
Leah Stout, Birchwood pupil


Warrington Library has had a poetry group for 2 years, formed after a successful National Poetry Day event. The group meets regularly and worked with Mike, who gave them guidance and support. The group chose to spend their sessions reading and discussing poetry. 
Warrington in the Future

A place of peace and harmony
Is what I’d like Warrington to be.
Where nobody argued or caused a fuss,
And pensioners travelled free on the bus.
Where everyone was friendly,
And there were no more thugs,
And no one was burgled for money or drugs.
Where poverty and homelessness were no more,
And folks weren’t scared to answer their door.
Where nobody had to beg in the street
And everyone had enough to eat.
A place of peace and harmony
That’s what I’d like Warrington to be.
Sheila D Axton


  • The project supported and enhanced the ongoing education work at HMYOI Thorn Cross, especially the Family Literacy Project.
  • It contributed to the Council’s corporate plan outcomes of improving health and well-being, making our communities safer and ensuring all children and young people have the opportunity to reach their potential.
  • It supported the aims of the Museums and Archives to support learning and encourage reading and literacy.
  • It supported the regional reader development strategy drawn up by the Time to Read consortium by spreading innovative ways of delivering reader-related services, raising the profile of libraries and reading and sharing passion for the pleasure of reading.
  • The project contributed nationally to the Framework for the Future government strategy for libraries, working with hard to reach groups.
"Please can we have some more?"
Local Poet
"My mind now works on Poetry"
Birchwood pupil
"A good way to express feelings and emotions"
Young Offender
"We were particularly impressed with the way Mike motivated a group of some of our most disaffected learners who receive behaviour support…their views about poetry and poets were radically changed as a result."
Head of English, Birchwood CHS