We’re working towards a society that encourages and supports young people from all backgrounds to write creatively for pleasure and agency. We believe there is dignity and power in being able to tell your own story and that writing can transform lives. Our programmes equip young people with the skills and confidence to tell their stories well and to thrive in life and education.
William Fiennes and Katie Waldegrave met in 2007, when Katie was a teacher at a state secondary and William was the Writer-in-Residence at a fee-paying school. Together they developed a plan to bring William’s writing expertise into Katie’s under-resourced school. Based on the success of this pilot project, a year later the pair founded First Story. They set out to provide high-quality creative writing opportunities for young people in schools in low-income communities, to employ the best UK writing talent, and to equip teachers. More than a decade later, our mission remains the same, and we’re changing more lives through writing than ever.
Our Charitable Objectives
- To advance the education of students in secondary schools in low-income communities by providing facilities for education in creative writing that aren’t required to be provided by the local education authority.
- To help young people advance in life by providing support, opportunities and activities which foster their creativity, literacy and talent, in order to build self-confidence, skills and aspiration so they may grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society.
- To promote the arts and, in particular, literature, poetry and creative writing, by inviting, commissioning and maintaining the services of British writers (whether such services require payment or otherwise), and by encouraging and assisting in the promotion, advancement and publication of the works of British writers.
Why Writing Matters
There is pleasure in telling your own story. There is power and agency too. The practice of writing creatively develops an invaluable set of attitudes, skills, and behaviours that unpin learning and assist young people to thrive. Creative writing fosters experimentation, risk and resilience. It cultivates curiosity and play, as it teaches self-discipline and persistence. Writing regularly also promotes mental health and wellbeing, as much as it furthers literacy and attainment.
Young people in low-income communities are much less likely to be able to access high-quality creative learning. With fewer opportunities to participate, their voices feel less valued and their stories go unheard. We believe every very young person, regardless of their start in life, deserves to reap the benefits of a rich creative education. When we nurture and support diverse voices, society benefits too.
How We’re Funded
First Story is a charity, actively fundraising year-round to secure the support of individuals, companies, trusts and foundations. We ask each partner school to contribute a top-up fee, towards the full cost of our intensive residencies and extended opportunities. On average, 70 per cent of First Story’s income is from grant funders and other voluntary sources.
First Story’s board of trustees report annually on our finances and strategic progress. Annual reports detailing all income and expenditure are published each December. You can find the last five years of First Story’s audited accounts on the Charity Commission’s website, here. We also publish an annual Impact Report for our stakeholders, which you can read online or download here.
Partnerships and pro bono support
Working with partners, regionally and nationally, is fundamental to achieving our mission. We’re grateful to benefit from the expertise of organisations that share our values, and we’re pleased to signpost and celebrate their work too.