Baran completed the Young Writers Programme in 2020-21 at Commerce House, Haringey Learning Partnership, an alternative provision school and service in Wood Green, London. Before Baran joined the First Story Young Writers Programme, he “didn’t like writing anything”, but after sixteen inspiring sessions of creative writing workshops with First Story Writer-in-Residence, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Baran went from feeling “shy and reserved” to “confident” and “proud” of the fantastic creative writing he produced. His work has since been published in Haringey Learning Partnerships’ First Story anthology, Play Our Song! and featured in a First Story National Writing Day creative resource. Baran is now enrolled at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, after receiving his GCSE results in August.
In Baran’s own words:
Hobbies: Basketball, chess, gaming and watching anime
Favourite subject: Maths, P.E and First Story
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.
The workshops allowed me to express my feelings. Being given the freedom to write whatever I wanted made me feel free.
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.
It is not over-stating anything to say that this programme has been transformational for our students (. . .) we are exceptionally grateful to Ashley, Ms Burke and First Story.Gerry Robinson, Executive Headteacher at the Haringey Learning Partnership
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.
It is not overstating anything to say that this programme has been transformational for our students. “We are exceptionally grateful to Ashley, Ms Burke and First Story.Gerry Robinson, Executive Headteacher at Commerce House: Haringey Learning Partnership
Click here to read Baran’s poem ‘Baran in Wood Green’.