Improving Skills Through Creative Writing
First Story is working towards a society that encourages and supports young people from all backgrounds to write creatively, for pleasure and agency. With Leeds Community Foundation support, they were able to provide a Writer-in-Residence programme at Leeds West Academy.
- In a nutshell, could you tell us what your Leeds Community Foundation funded project involves?
Our flagship programme places professional writers into state secondary schools, where they work intensively with students and teachers, over one or two terms, to develop confidence, creativity and writing skills. First Story is committed to bringing opportunities for creativity to students who may not otherwise have the chance.
- Why is this kind of support so vital, what’s the need and what might be the situation if the support you offer didn’t exist?
Creative writing develops a unique mix of skills and attitudes to support learning and prepare young people to thrive. The craft of writing fosters experimentation, risk and resilience. Writing regularly promotes mental health and wellbeing, as much as it furthers literacy and attainment.
We offer young writers the time and space to explore new ideas and share them without judgement. Without our project the young people we work with may not have that opportunity.
- Could you share a rewarding moment you’ve had so far? Is there a particular story you could share from a beneficiary you’ve helped?
Over the course of our partnership the young writers at Leeds West Academy have produced three incredible professionally published anthologies of writing: Creations: Creatures of the Mind, How to Survive the Storm and Stories Without Ends. The pride on display when we launched these publications at school was a clear demonstration of not only a huge reward for their efforts but also a lasting legacy of real value.
- What made you apply for a Foundation grant, what difference has the funding from the Foundation made?
Thanks to generous support of LCF, First Story was able to support a wonderful Writer-in-Residence programme at Leeds West Academy with the writer Nik Perring. We’ve built stronger links with the wider community in Rodley, Batley and the surrounds. And crucially, the young people at Leeds West Academy have been able to share their stories with their parents, schools, communities and nationally through the publication of their writing in an anthology.