Living Words

Living Words

At a glance


  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Learning disabilities / difficulties
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender
  • Local / community
  • Mental health
  • Older people / later life
  • Social care

Other details

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Living Words is a small size/big impact arts and literature organisation, usually found innovating from our Folkestone community into the wider world. We live by our values of integrity, social benefit, equity and inclusion. Responsive and can-do in approach, we are known for creative work with marginalised people, impacted by dementia or mental ill health in particular, delivered through diverse artists with a shared purpose. Since 2007 our artists have been applying our unique Listen Out Loud (LOL) methodology to co-create individual books of words with project members on their lived experience.

In an attempt to help individuals transform their lives, and relationships, Listen Out Loud works by listening to a person’s sounds and words which are written, as they speak, and then edited with them to validate their sense of self when read back. With their involvement and within an ethical framework, individuals and groups receive their own books. Following, the Living Words artistic team take these words out into the world through arts and culture ventures, in the form of anthology publications, song, film, performance, and festival programming. This process is to enable these voices to be heard and to challenge associated societal stigma and promote inclusion. We want to see a world in which all our sounds and words are given space to be heard. For speakers to be validated and take power through their vocal expression, listeners to get in sync, and our artists affirmed in their art and progression of their skills.


We continued working throughout Covid-19, pivoting our activity delivery - working with those impacted by dementias, working in carehomes, as well as those with mental ill health. Our Covid working precipitated an organisational reframe - now, our Listen Out Loud method is now applied in two participatory strands:

1) LIVING ALOUD involves residencies in care homes, community settings, day centres and hospitals. Our process includes working 1-to-1 in creative partnership with people experiencing dementia and their carers and families. Staff workshops and sharings embed use of peoples’ Living Words books in everyday routine, support and enhance wellbeing through deeper connection.  

2) LIVING WARRIORS uses the same method to work with people experiencing ongoing mental health concerns. Taking place in our specially built library hub, our projects bring small groups together, to then work 1-to-1 with Living Words artists. All co-create individual word books. 

Large reach outputs from these two strands have included songs, films, animation and anthologies - featured at Southbank Centre; BBC online, news and radio; WHO and many more. Our local community work has been shared locally, nationally, and internationally, and still to this day, Living Words are the only arts and literature organisation in the world that carries out this work.

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