Young writers who have completed our programme have fed back that they have enjoyed it so much they want to continue to be involved. At First Story, we are keen to develop new ways alumni can continue to enjoy writing and build their skills. So, alongside Rathbones Folio Prize Mentorships, the Arvon Summer Residential, and regular public speaking and performance invitations, we are excited to add a new opportunity for our alumni: the First Story Young Ambassadors Programme, which launched on National Poetry Day with a series of specially commissioned poems.
The Young Ambassadors Programme is a supported volunteering opportunity for First Story alumni who are keen to carry on writing and who want to get more involved in creative life. It will put young people at the heart of promoting creative writing within their schools and local communities.
First Story Young Ambassadors will play a key role – with our help and support – in fostering and nurturing a positive culture of creative writing, initiating new opportunities for their peers and teachers to write creatively and celebrate their work throughout the year.
For example, they might work with us to shape regional Connect events or co-produce events to celebrate National Writing Day in their school. They could lead assemblies talking to students and parents about the benefits of creative writing. They might mentor new students who join the First Story programme. They may be given a specific role in the group as instructed by their Writer-in-Residence. With our help, they could start journals or creative-writing magazines showcasing the ideas, talent and writing from the school community. They may also lead CPD sessions in their schools, sharing some of their favourite creative writing exercises with school staff, informing teaching practice.
I was supported by First Story for four years and I’ve been supporting them ever since. We are a big family. It sounds really cheesy, but it could not be more true: they really inspired the person that I am today.”Sophie, First Story alumna, Bradford
We hope that this opportunity will help the Young Ambassadors develop leadership, mentoring and event management skills – all of which are highly desirable soft skills that employers are seeking. Being a Young Ambassador will add to their CV or personal statement and will help them stand out from the crowd. And we hope to give them a platform, both within their schools and at First Story events, to celebrate their achievements.
Giving them a public platform, we launched the new programme with a series of specially commissioned poems to celebrate National Poetry Day. These were shared across our social media channels on National Poetry Day itself and can be read below:
As part of a three-year project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, during 2020/21 we’ll be piloting this new strand of our work with eight partner schools across the East Midlands and the North of England—aiming to extend the opportunity in the following academic year to participants in all of our partner schools nationally.
Participating schools in 2020/21 are: Appleton Academy and Coop Academy Grange, both in Bradford; Farnborough Academy in Nottingham; Hull Trinity House Academy; Judgemeadow Community College in Leicester; Landau Forte College in Derby; Witham—a Priory Academy in Lincoln; and Haven High Academy in Boston, Lincolnshire.