This is a guest blog by Bristol Story Lab, who received funding from RSA Catalyst earlier this year. Jon Kennard FRSA is one of the key people behind the Bristol Story Lab.
Bristol Story Lab is a non-profit organisation with the aim of unleashing young people’s imaginations, and letting their creativity lead them.
We do this through story writing workshops for 8-18 year olds, in which the participants take the lead. They tell us where the story is going, and where it ends. We’re there to encourage them, de-mystify the writing process and hopefully inspire them to continue writing once they leave.
Our workshops take place behind the façade of The Inventive Inventors’ Inventory: the leading purveyor of products for evil scientists, mad professors and crackpot inventors of all kinds. Where else can you pick up the Newton Approved Gravity Checker, or get your taste buds around some Fresh Thinking Mints? The sales of these products help to fund the workshop programme.
We’ve been running a series of workshops with the children of Bannerman Road and Millpond primary schools in Easton, Bristol. Easton is one of the most deprived areas in the south west of England, with the Lawrence Hill ward the most deprived ward in the region and one of the most deprived in Britain.
With approximately 30 children from each school we were led on two exciting adventures that spread over the course of six workshops, three with each school. The stories each follow the journey of a family who are driven from their home and forced to settle in a new land.
These adventures will be published later this summer alongside the real life story of one of Easton's most well-known families. This is a story with many parallels to those created in our workshops, even if the characters in this family are somewhat less fantastical than their fictional counterparts like father-of-the-house Crepsley Longbeard (pictured right).
Thanks to RSA Catalyst funding we will be able to supply free copies of the book to all of the workshop participants, along with free copies for both primary schools and the Junction 3 Library. If you want to get your hands on one you'll have to ask one of them nicely, or keep your eyes peeled for stocks around the city. Sales from these stocks will be pumped back into project to fund future workshop programmes.
Next steps for us are to get these books typeset and published over the summer, and to begin talking to organisations about major funding grants. We will use these books as examples of the type of work our project produces, along with feedback from the schools and children involved in making them. We’d love to hear from any RSA Fellows with experience of successfully winning major funding grants who would be prepared to help us draft our applications.
Additionally, if there are any Fellows who are interested in coming to volunteer with us then please get in touch. Our workshops are huge amounts of fun and are also very rewarding. To become a volunteer with Bristol Story Lab email firstname.lastname@example.org.