Jo McFarlane (pictured above) is a poet who has lived in Edinburgh all her life and studied languages and philosophy, then a postgraduate degree in Community Education at the University of Edinburgh. Here Jo reads her poem ‘Held’:

Jo has worked in various voluntary sector roles, mainly in the field of advocacy, and has published several collections of poetry, articles and essays. The themes she writes about include creativity, volunteering, spirituality, social justice, diversity, mental health and childhood trauma – drawing on her own experience of these – as well as comic verse and observational pieces on everything under the moon. Jo is regularly invited to give presentations and perform her poems at conferences and workshops including several recitals at the Scottish Parliament.

She has been referred to as ‘the poet laureate of recovery’ and ‘one of the most influential women in mental health in Scotland today’. Her memoir Skydiving for Beginners: A Journey of Recovery and Hope is published by the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.

We are privileged to have Jo on our volunteering stories team. Not only has she helped us edit many stories, and shared her own story but she has also very kindly dedicated some poems to us to showcase on this site and has given us permission to share some of her other poems that you can read or listen to here.