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Letters of Solidarity – a new writing campaign for young people

In response to these strange times, our partners at Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature (NUCoL) have created a fantastic new project aimed at Nottingham’s younger people. Letters of Solidarity helps young people process the moment by writing their stories. Nottingham Trent University (NTU) is delighted to be playing a part in bringing this project to life.

Letters of solidarity campaign

Letters of Solidarity is a new writing campaign for young people aged 14 to 25. The lockdown has been long and gruelling. For many, seeing friends and family meant relying on technology. Few people living in the world today have experienced an event like it. NUCoL’s Letters of Solidarity asks, what was it like for you?

“Solidarity is staying in when you’d rather go out, avoiding busy places, hanging a rainbow in your window, helping someone with their shopping, talking to your grandparents through a pane of glass, and clapping for the NHS on a Thursday night. It’s wearing a face mask on public transport, respecting social distancing rules, and being there when someone’s having a hard time emotionally and needs to talk. It’s delivering food parcels, helping a sibling with their homework, saying thank you at the checkout, standing patiently in a queue and washing, washing, washing your hands. It’s writing a poem, a story, a song, a letter to express yourself and shed light on our common experience,” explained Eve Makis, NTU Lecturer in Creative Writing, in her blog about solidarity earlier this month.

Eve, who is also a novelist, has played a pivotal role in this project, which has received funding from Arts Council England and from another of NTU’s key cultural partners, ChalleNGe.  As well as preparing written materials and templates for the activity pack and a blog about the meaning of solidarity (see extract above), Eve is one of three writers running Saturday writing sessions over the summer to help young people generate letters using their creativity. The other two writers are NTU PhD Student, writer and poet, Panya Banjoko and educator, writer, performer and filmmaker Ioney Smallhorne. Eve said: “I welcomed the chance to be involved in this project, to gauge, register and record the voices of young people for whom COVID-19 has had far-reaching consequences.”

NTU Alumni and Project Manager at NUCoL, Richard Bromhall, is heading up the campaign. He said: “I'm so pleased there's an outlet for young people to write about what's happened this year. It’s a situation that nobody in this county will have experienced in living memory and sharing our experience of it might be a useful way of understanding and working through it.”

Everyone between the ages of 14 and 25 is encouraged to take part and to reflect on recent experiences and consider what it means to stand in solidarity during these strange times. NTU’s Associate Professor for Education, Sue Dymoke is working with NUCoL to create an evaluation framework to assess the impact of the project.

ChalleNGe, along with NTU’s Culture and Centre for Schools and Community Engagement teams, are all supporting NUCoL to send out the Letters of Solidarity activity packs to groups and schools in Nottingham.

Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature is one of NTU’s cultural strategic partners. Its mission is to build a better world with words. It uses the power of words to transform lives, create new opportunities and establish Nottingham as a leading destination for lovers of literature worldwide.

Published on 22 July 2020
  • Category: Business; Culture; Curated & Created; Current students; Staff