After completing the Young Writers Programme during 2021 at Commerce House, a PRU in Haringey, North London, Baran received his GCSE results and enrolled at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London.
Before First Story I didn’t like writing anything, I felt it was something that I couldn’t do. I really hated my English lessons because I had to write. When I found out that my class were involved in the First Story programme, I didn’t want to do it; I thought it was going to be just like my English lessons. However, I soon realised that it was different – interesting. The workshops allowed me to express my feelings. Being given the freedom to write whatever I wanted made me feel free. I didn’t have to think about the rules of writing, techniques, spelling and grammar, and I was always encouraged by Ashley (our Writer-in-Residence) to write in whatever way felt natural to me. It felt like I found my own voice.
In the beginning I didn’t want to share my work with anyone else in the class, I listened to others read their work aloud but didn’t feel that I could do the same. Generally, I am quite shy and reserved and would never have thought that I would stand before a group of people and share something that I’d written. Yet, as the weeks went on, I saw that Ashley created an open and non-judgemental space which encouraged me to read my work, and I am so glad that I did.
Being part of the First Story programme, I have proved to myself that I can write, and I can write well. I have found that I have my own unique style which is appreciated by others – one of my poems has even been used as a creative writing activity by First Story for National Writing Day. I now feel confident about my writing skills and being able to speak in front of my class, which is something that I would never have done before. I have come such a long way and I am proud.