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Early in 2017 this website became a parent. From being a sole entity it has become several entities, separate but connected. In becoming several, this original version has shrunk.

For nearly ten years now, the charity's "Poems for..." project has been offering bilingual poem-posters for public display. Mostly they go to school-teachers, for use in schools all over the world. More recently two new collections have been added. One is on mental health, the other on Learning Disability. See

About us


Hyphen-21 is the name of a UK charity. It was founded in the 1990's and its roots were in social work and the principles that underlie social work.


The number 21 in its title refers, of course, to the present century ; the hyphen comes from a book called "I and Thou" by the theologian Martin Buber. The book proposes that there is a kind of duality in the way we approach other people and the world at large : on the one hand there is the mode "I - It" and on the other the mode "I - Thou." For Buber makes clear that we cannot just treat each other as objects, tools, customers, the electorate, one "It" after another, a numberless constituency of "Its". We must also open ourselves in truth and wholeness and say "Thou."  And he places great weight and meaning on the hyphen between those two words : I - Thou. It is here upon a precarious bare hyphen that I and my neighbour, my opposite number, must come to terms. What human skills and qualities are needed there ?


Hyphen-21's original purpose was to name and highlight, through examples and by degrees, the skills, qualities and values required to run a vital, creative and cohesive society of the present day. What enables and sustains human connection ? What creates trust in the individual ? What supports good citizenship ? Where does empathy belong ? What is it ? How can it flourish ? How survive ?


The charity focussed in particular on social care issues, on society's approach to mental ill-health, and on poetry displayed in public - in schools and waiting rooms - as a way of using language "to open people's lives to each other."


Since Hyphen-21's foundation, two further websites have been created, each on specific aspects of the charity's work.


In 2008, the UK Poet Laureate of that time, Andrew Motion, launched a website designed specifically for "Poemsfor...", by now our highly succesful poetry project (it began life being called "Poems for the Waiting Room"). This site supplies a large number of small poem-posters free of charge for public display. Many of the poems are bilingual, written by internationally famous authors. Here is its address :


And a site called Mental Health Witness will soon be featuring all the charity's work on mental health.


In addition, the charity's founder Rogan Wolf also nowadays keeps a blog. There he speaks in a purely personal capacity, but many of his concerns are inevitably consistent with those of this charity he set up. Occasionally, then, if Trustees agree that they further and accord with the charity's aims and principles, pieces published initially on his blog will be transferred here. His poems often appear on the blog as well. Here is the blog address :


These developments require significant changes to the present site and these will be made in stages through the early months of 2017. Several sections have already been deleted, as they are no longer relevant. And there will be a few additions.


The rotating pictures along the top of the page will remain. They still seem to fit and to provide us with our context. We shall also retain references around the site to the various projects we have conducted, which have attracted comment and commendation over the years.


Hyphen-21 is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee.



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Poems for...
“Poems for the Waiting Room is an inspired scheme …… I've been delighted to be a part of it.”
Andrew Motion,
Poet Laureate

Code of Conduct for ward rounds
“The Department of Health welcome[s] such initiatives as the Code of Professional Conduct for Ward Rounds and Similar Meetings. [This] is an example of good practice it would want to support…”
Julie Nichols,

User involvement in staff recruitment
Hyphen-21's model of a separate user panel “is an example of notable practice..worthy of sharing..across the NHS.”
Report by the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI)
August 2002

Comments on Hyphen-21
“We feel that Hyphen-21 is doing some very important work designed to connect people to people, and people to community - their work on a code of good practice for ward rounds and their "Poems for the Waiting Room" project are particularly potent examples.”
Consumer Consultancy (Brighton)

“ I initially accessed your site as I was interested in your "Poems for..." project. However I am now really impressed by the other projects you have set up. My colleagues have also looked at your website and enjoyed the content too… We provide support and advice to drug users and their families. This involves needle exchange, counselling, access to funding for rehab, etc..I would like to express my support for your charity.”
Sheena MacKenzie,
Turning Point Worcester Druglink

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