Mental Health Access: In Person and Virtual Held Spaces

VPH is committed to values of accessibility for all our audiences, poets, and volunteers, and  committed to providing support to our community. With our hybrid virtual and live Verses Festival this year, we will  provide active listening services at all our in person events, with the added option to schedule time to meet with a member of our active listening team online.

What are active listeners?

With live poetry, we recognize that difficult material and challenging subjects may come forward, and want to prioritize self-care for our audiences. Active listeners use a trauma informed approach to offer peer support, provide access to resources, or a safe space for you to decompress, debrief, or process your thoughts and emotions.

Active listeners are not mental health professionals and do not offer counseling, but can provide you with a list of resources of where to seek the specific kind of help you may need.

How can I contact an active listener?

In person: Active Listeners are at our in-person events and can be identified by glow sticks. 

Online: For our online events, an active listener will be present and available to contact via a zoom breakout room or by phone. In addition, we have dedicated 2 hours during the day from April 26-29th where you can schedule a drop in time to speak to our active listeners via zoom. All discussions are confidential.

To schedule a time, email  with the subject line “Active Listening- _name____” and include the name of the listener you would like to speak with. Sessions can be as long or as brief as needed, and will take place via zoom to include closed captioning. 

Verses Festival Active Listeners

Frankie McGee (they/them)
reach Frankie by emailing with the subject heading Active Listening-Frankie

Frankie McGee

I am a disabled, neurodivergent, queer & trans poet and arts facilitator, who has supported kids, youth and adults across many contexts. I have been involved with VPH since moving here in 2016. I’ve been a door volunteer, poet, accessibility volunteer (writing image descriptions for Verses Festival photos), board member, and active listener, and supported the youth team in going to the Voices of Today Festival in 2019. I also coordinated the teams and active listeners at the Voices of Today festival in 2017. Engaging with spoken word in the context of poetry slams can be a lot sometimes, regardless of how you’re interacting with the space. It’s always been important to me to build community care and accessibility into the spaces I move through. I am honoured to be an active listener at the Verses Festival this year, and hope to hold space for community members however is needed!

Frankie’s drop-in hours: Wednesday April 27th, 1:00pm-2:00pm PST

Ami Din (she/her)
reach Ami by emailing with the subject heading Active Listening-AmiAmi

I’m Ami Din, an active listener for the past 3 years at the versus festival of words.Recent graduate of the Health Sciences Bachelor of Arts at Simon Fraser University.Passionate about studying visible and invisible disabilities, mental health in youth and most importantly, sex and gender disparities in healthcare for the LGBTQIA+.On top of writing poetry, I use my free time to make tik toks about my two blind cats, Stevie and Wonder, and eagerly visit all the cafes in Vancouver to find the best lattes.

Ami’s drop-in hours: Tuesday April 26th, 12:00-2:00pm PST

Amanda Lederle (they/them)
reach Amanda by emailing with the subject heading Active Listening-Amanda

Amanda (they/them) is a neurodiverse, queer Chinese-Canadian born, recovering perfectionist and empathic human living in Tkaronto (Toronto). Their goal is to leave every conversation knowing that the individual feels a little more heard than when they began. Amanda loves to discuss creativity and mental health. They have been trained as a peer support, completed their Mental Health First Aid certification and is a Movies for Mental Health facilitator for Art with Impact Canada. To learn more:

Amanda’s drop-in hours: Wednesday April 27th, 12:00-1:00pm PST

Sonya Littlejohn (She/They) 
reach Sonya by emailing with the subject heading Active Listening-Sonya

Sonya Littlejohn

Sonya Littlejohn has a degree in Canadian Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her poetry is in Other Tongues, Sustenance and lit journal Oratorealis. She won honourable mention in Briarpatch Magazine’s 2018 Writing in the Margins Contest. She facilitates writing workshops and performs poetry all over Turtle Island (cka. Canada). She was born and raised and splits time in Secwepemc and Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Səl̓ilwətaɁɬ, and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Unceded Territory.

Sonya’s drop-in hours: Friday April 29th, 1:00-3:00pm PST

chris/teen (she/they)
reach chris/teen by emailing with the subject heading Active Listening-chris/teen

chris/teen (she/they) is a queer South Asian arts & mindfulness facilitator, crisis responder, & founder of Healing Hearts Through Art (h2art).  They combine their experience within arts-based wellness, mindful space-making, and active listening to facilitate moments of sharing, compassion, and growth.  As an Active Listener, you can expect chris to leverage their trauma-informed trainings, lived experiences of mental health and diagnoses, as well as her mindfulness expertise to access a sense of ease, safety, and support for those who reach out to her.

chris/teen’s drop-in hours: Thursday April 28th, 12:00-2:00pm PST

Other Resources
Community Resource List

In addition to offering active listening services, our in person event spaces will include a held space area where audiences and poets are able to decompress.