Young female writers create urban fairytales of gangs and life on the streets

Eliza Greenslade (15) from Parliament Hill School and Armani Afia (15) from La Sante Union, outside

Eliza Greenslade (15) from Parliament Hill School and Armani Afia (15) from La Sante Union, outside Swiss Cottage Library 08.02.14. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

A group of female writers have given traditional fairytales a modern flavour using stories of gangs, segregation and life on the streets as part of a project to develop literacy skills.

Six young women from Camden, all aged between 15 and 24, had the chance to perform alongside professional poets and showcase their work, written collectively in workshops at Swiss Cottage Library.

Four of the writers took to the stage last Wednesday to read out an introduction to the story they had created. It was performed by four professional rappers and spoken word artists in King’s Cross.

The event, held during National Storytelling Week, was the culmination of a project funded by Arts Council England, called Tell Tales and designed to improve literacy skills in young people.

Armani Afia, 15, of Highgate Road, said getting involved in the writing workshops has helped her studies.


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“It’s a stress reliever,” said the La Sainte Union Catholic School pupil, who will be taking her GCSEs in the summer.

“When I do a lot of work and get quite stressed, writing music and stuff is really relaxing. It’s so nice to have that time to relax before going back to my studies.”

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A group from Tottenham also performed on the night, speaking about feminism and what it means to them at the event, which was called Herstory and Forever After.

The workshops at Swiss Cottage Library, in Avenue Road, Swiss Cottage, held in the run-up to the storytelling showcase, were organised by WIDSM, a Camden charity that works to educate and support young people in arts training.

Volunteers gave the young women lessons in character development, plot structure and creating engaging dialogue.

Armani and the other young women will receive an Arts Award qualification for taking part in the project.

Tell Tales is also being run in Haringey, Tottenham, Lambeth and Oxford. To find out more visit www.smallgreenshoots.co.uk

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