Engaging young people with libraries and spoken word...

October 18, 2017

The Young People’s Laureate for London Tour 2017-18 is a partnership project between Spread the Word and the Association of London Chief Librarians (ALCL). It's an example of a lovely project we’ve been working on lately linking up young people with libraries in their local area. Taking place over two years and reaching 10 outer London library services, the project aims to engage young people with arts provision in their local area, specifically targeting boroughs that have been identified as ‘cold-spots’ for arts provision.

The project has established co-production groups in each region; groups of young people who are working with the library services to programme and host events that reach out to their peers. These groups have decided on the event line-up and running order, programmed workshops and are currently marketing the events, which take place in the final week of October. The Audience Agency has been involved in both delivering training to the librarians in engaging with young people, and in supporting the young people in the co-production groups in Bexley, Croydon, Merton and Newham to create a buzz around their events on social media.

The programme has been spearheaded by Caleb Femi, the Young People’s Laureate for London, whose focus is to engage young people across the city with poetry. For him however, the project is about more than just poetry.

“The tour is about getting young people involved, motivating them to do what they want to do and gaining the confidence to go beyond their own expectations. Whether it’s poetry-based or not, just invigorating and reinvigorating young people and being like: “Look. You have your life. Your life is in your hands. Where do you want to go with it? This is the time for you to stop allowing people to make decisions for you. Tell people where you want to go and how you want to go there.” It’s our role as facilitators, as organisations, as libraries, as people, to make that happen.

Here’s a couple of the Instagram accounts that were set up in the training sessions with the young people in Croydon and Newham to help them promote their upcoming events: @centralspeaks2k17 and @newhamspeaksout

The Young People’s Laureate Tour 2017 takes place from 24-28 October and visits Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Croydon, Merton and Newham. Caleb along with a host of other poets will be delivering workshops and performances for young people aged 13-25.

To find out more, visit spreadtheword.org.uk/YPLTour/

Katie Windsor - Consultant, Learning & Participation

Image credit: Lee Townsend for Spread the Word