Ninety five students from six local schools took part in our first Manchester Connect event in April 2023.
In collaboration with the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University, and Manchester UNESCO City of Literature, the event helped to strengthen connections between young people, schools, professional writers and our delivery partners. The theme of the day was ‘Making marks: An exploration of place, the convergence of people and legacy they leave.’
Students from our first partner school in the city, Trinity C of E High School in Hulme, took part alongside young people from five more schools in Greater Manchester: Broadoak High School, Didsbury High School, Stockport School, Unsworth Academy and Wright Robinson College.
PHOTOGRAPHY: CLAIRE WALMSLEY GRIFFITH
Support from professional writers
The event opened with an introduction from John McAuliffe, Co-Director of the Centre for New Writing, followed by an inspiring showcase of writing by First Story participants in other parts of the country. Undergraduate Student Ambassadors from both universities gave tours of the surrounding area to encourage our young writers’ creativity. Tour highlights including the Contact Theatre, the Lemn Sissay Rain Mural, Manchester Poetry Library, and the site where Charlotte Bronte began writing Jane Eyre.
Writers Ruth Awolola, Dominic Berry, Andy Craven-Griffiths and Reece Williams provided further inspiration by sharing their own work and explaining their journeys as creative practitioners. During both the morning and afternoon workshops, writers led students to take creative approaches to writing about places important to them.
Celebrating young writers’ work
Participants were encouraged to edit a piece of a writing they had produced, in postcard format, to put forward for consideration as part of the Manchester UNESCO City of Literature writing trail, in June 2023.
At the end of the day, Kay Tew, Education Manager at Manchester Poetry Library, introduced a young writers’ showcase session. Participants were invited to come up to the front and perform their work for the audience, which the majority did enthusiastically!
Feedback from participants
I enjoyed the creativity and the open space to share ideas.
It helped me to feel more confident with writing and expanded my passion for poetry.
Learning different methods of writing and hearing the work of other people to gain ideas and perspectives.
It helped me by writing about new and interesting topics and getting to pick what I wrote about.