Workshops in Prisons

The Literary Festival is a registered charity and part of our charitable aims is to focus on encouraging children to read because of the immense benefits it brings in terms of well-being, literacy and life-skills.

We are making a particular effort to encourage parents to read with their children, because it is during this valuable time together that parents and carers bond with their children, help reinforce literacy skills, and gift them a passion they will have for life. It has long been recognised that reading and reading with and to children has immense benefits for well-being, literacy and educational outcomes. A report, conducted by The Reading Agency and funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation, found that reading for pleasure ‘improved social capital for children and young people and [benefitted] parent-child communication’.

Put simply, children who read for pleasure, especially with their parents, are happier, healthier and do better in life than those who don’t. To this end we have run several story sharing projects in schools.

However, when parents and children are separated because the parent is in prison this makes family bonding extremely challenging. Parents who are able to keep bonds with their children are more likely to have a better outcome in terms of rehabilitation, and are less likely to re-offend. After talking with experts, we realised the value of helping parents write a story for their children which will help to bridge the communication gap between parent and child, and help boost the self-esteem and positive outlook of the parent.

Throughout 2017 and 2018 we will be delivering workshops to women's prisons in the UK and working with the charity Storybook Mums so the women can record their stories for their children to enjoy over and over again at home. we hope this will go some way to bridging the gap at an essential time in a child's emotional development.

Feedback from Women in HMP Peterborough September 2017
'I loved today's workshop. I wasn't sure of I would like it or if i could do it as my son is 13 and I don't see him much, but I ended up writing almost an entire novel (ha ha) and i am very proud of the finsished piece. I hope to read it to him over the phone. Highly recommend it to others.' CS

'I have really enjoyed the writing class. It really got my imagination working and I've now almost got an original story for me daughter! Hollie and Annie were amazing....they never made anyone feel like they couldn't do it. It's been a day of escapism and I've loved every minute.'

'You gave me the motivation to do this and shown that everyoe has it in them to tell a story.' Lucy

'I am very happy with the outcome of my story and very happy that i am sending it home to my little brother' Megan

We would like to thank the William A Cadbury Charitable Trust and Private Benefactors for supporting this work.

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