First Story strives to support and inspire creativity, literacy and talent in challenging UK secondary schools and their communities.
What we do
First Story arranges and pays for acclaimed writers to run creative-writing workshops for students in state schools across the country. Each writer-in-residence leads weekly, after-school workshops for a group of up to twenty-one students. We publish the students’ writing in a professionally produced anthology for each school, and the schools host book-launch events at which the students read their stories to their peers, friends, families and teachers.
We focus on schools in which more than 50% of pupils are considered deprived according to the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index and/or GCSE results fall in the lowest third of the national distribution.
First Story has been an absolutely wonderful chance for our students, especially considering they are on free school meals, live in tough areas and have really challenging lives. It has been a chance for them to really express themselves and to develop a love of language, of writing, to enjoy reading and the process of expressing themselves in a way that is so safe and so freeing.
First Story Writer-in-Residence Anthony Anaxagorou at the Young Writers’ Festival in Oxford
Former teacher Katie Waldegrave and the writer William Fiennes met in the autumn of 2007 and fell into conversation about Fiennes’s work as Writer-in-Residence at the fee-paying American School in London. Of course, not every school can afford to have a writer-in-residence. William and Katie started First Story in the hope of bringing such an opportunity to state schools around the country.
2008 First Story becomes a registered charity. Eight creative writing residencies take place in eight London schools.
2009 First Story launches three residencies in Oxford.
2010 First Story launches in the East Midlands with four residencies.
2011 HRH The Duchess of Cornwall becomes Patron of First Story. First Story holds the first Young Writers’ Festival in Oxford.
2013 First Story celebrates its fifth birthday. The charity launches in Bradford with four residencies.
TODAY, First Story is running creative-writing projects in 40 schools across Bradford, the East Midlands, London and Oxfordshire. We are helping young people to find their voices and realise that their voices have value.
First Story’s charitable objectives (as set out in its Memorandum of Association and approved by the Charity Commission) are:
(1) to advance the education of young students in challenging UK secondary schools by providing and assisting in the provision of facilities not required to be provided by the local education authority for education in creative writing;
(2) to advance in life and help young students in challenging UK secondary schools through the provision of support, opportunities and activities which foster their creativity, literacy and talent to build self-confidence, skills and aspiration so they may grow to full maturity as individuals and members of society; and
(3) to promote the arts and, in particular, literature, poetry and creative writing by: (a) inviting, commissioning and maintaining services of British writers whether such services require the payment of fees by the charity or otherwise; and (b) encouraging and assisting in promoting, advancing and publishing the works of British writers.
‘First Story’ is a business name of First Story Limited, a private company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, whose company number is 06487410 and registered office is 4 More London Riverside . First Story Limited is a registered UK charity, number 1122939.
Photos © Richard Budd