A BOLTON poet and musician has been inspiring students to create a lockdown-themed poem.

Pupils at Unsworth Academy in Bury, which is part of the Shaw Education Trust, collaborated with Oliver James Lomax to create the poem, which was then recorded and set to music by musician

Damien Riley, lead singer of indie rock band Our Fold.

Principal of the school, Sue Armstrong, said: “The idea behind this poem was to provide support to those who have had difficulty over lockdown, acknowledge that we have all struggled and that it is okay to feel scared.

“We also wanted to give a voice to our most vulnerable learners, encouraging our young people to feel proud of what they have achieved.”

Oliver interviewed a number of students and asked them to write down what they thought were important things about 2020, before conducting a poetry writing workshop.

The poem references everything from Black Lives Matter, clapping for the NHS and wearing face masks, to personal stories about learning football tricks, learning from home and losing loved ones.

Ms Armstrong said: “Oliver is wonderful with our young people, very positive and supportive enabling students to open up in these creative sessions.

“The poem celebrates the stability of school in uncertain times and, although the project is not yet finished, the impact has already been amazing with disaffected learners embracing the opportunity and opening up about their fears.”

English teacher and organiser of the project, Sarah Leech, added: “I was delighted to work with Oliver again on this project and am grateful for his time, knowledge and expertise.

“I would also like to commend the students involved for their great attitude towards the project. It has been an inspirational experience for all of us.”

Oliver, 36, has been poet in residence at The Working Class Movement Library, Poet in Residence with Dylan’s Book Bus at The Laugharne Weekend, Latitude Festival, Green Man, Do Not Go Gentle and The Goodlife Experience.

This year saw him publish two collections of poetry, The Dandelion Clock and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Nan.

Last year three of his poems were performed by Maxine Peake at the Radical Readings commemorative event in Manchester

Oliver added: “It has been an honour to work alongside the students in the writing of this piece.

“The courage, hope and unity they have shown during this difficult time in their lives has been so inspiring to witness. It’s been a real privilege.”