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“The best thing about all of this is that it matters” – Running a public education programme

Dr Kerry Young at the New Dawn New Day workshop. Photo credit: Lealle Brady.
  • 20 February, 2024

RLF Fellow Dr Kerry Young has spent seven years running Writing for Life workshops. But what exactly is writing for life? We asked Kerry to talk about her experiences working in the social sector for the Royal Literary Fund.

Right now, it is called Writing for Life. But previously, between 2017 and 2023, it was called Social Sector – when it was (as it still is) a part of the Royal Literary Fund’s public education programme.

So, there has been a change of name. But not a change of heart. Writing for Life is still committed to individuals and groups who experience social exclusion or isolation – for example, people who have experienced abuse or trauma; vulnerable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers; older people; people experiencing physical or mental health issues; young people at risk of exclusion from school; looked after young people; people within the criminal justice system; neglected communities.

“We are not just paying writers.

We are offering opportunities that enrich and change people’s lives.”

For my part, the past seven years have felt like coming full circle. From a background in youth and community work to writing fiction, I am now using my connection with words to help organisations improve their workplace writing (reports, case studies, funding applications) and support individuals’ understanding of how they use words to express what they think and how they feel.

It is now 2024. But from humble beginnings in 2017, we can now boast an impressive and diverse range of organisations we work with in the public and community sectors. And a list of 40+ writers who, having completed the Fellowship Scheme, are now paid to deliver Writing for Life workshops across the UK as RLF Fellows.

The best thing about all of this is that it matters. We are not just paying writers. We are offering opportunities that enrich and change people’s lives – whether they are NHS patients benefitting from clearer, more concise reports written by nurses or midwives, community practitioners using reflective writing to learn from their experience and develop their practice, voluntary and community sector organisations writing more structured funding applications or individuals in communities reflecting on their lives and the words they use to express what they think and how they feel.

I am happy and proud to have been a part of this – from the beginning. From finding partner organisations to connecting writers to them and supporting both to offer our most constructive, encouraging, and inspiring contributions. Going back to my community roots has been a privilege.

Dr Kerry Young

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