Eloise Williams to start year-long residency at Tonyrefail Community School
“This project is opening doors and creating possibilities in such an accessible and exciting way. I’m absolutely delighted to be able to get involved.”
– Michael Sheen, Do You Get Me? Ambassador
Eloise Williams, award-winning children’s writer and the first ever Children’s Laureate Wales is about to start an exciting new adventure as a year-long writer-in-residence at Tonyrefail Community School in Rhondda Cynon Taf. During this academic year, Eloise will visit the school every week of term to run workshops with pupils and inspire them to read and to write their own creative stories.
The project, which is called Do You Get Me? is run in partnership between Literature Wales and First Campus, a Cardiff University programme aimed at engaging young people in south east Wales and reducing barriers to higher education. Eloise will work with every Year 8 student at Tonyrefail Community School, as well as groups of young people from other years including pupils who are in care or who are young carers. Engagement in literature has long been proven to be beneficial to well-being, and this will be a key focus for Eloise’s residency through creative workshops and opportunities for self-expression through literature. During the year, Eloise will be joined by special guests from the world of writing and illustration, who will share their passion for creativity and introduce the pupils to the magic of words. Further activities will include several creative writing competitions with book prizes donated by award-winning Wales-based publishers Firefly Press.
Renowned Welsh actor, Michael Sheen, who is an ambassador for the project said, “Opening up creative pathways for young people can be life-changing. I know that from personal experience. This project is opening doors and creating possibilities in such an accessible and exciting way. I’m absolutely delighted to be able to get involved.”
The wider aim of the project, beyond inspiring and supporting the young people through literature, is to learn the impact that prolonged engagement with a writer can have on the students and the wider school community. The impact of the project will be shared with schools across Wales to inspire them to explore the possible benefits of appointing writers and artists in residence at their own schools.
Do You Get Me? follows a pilot literature project led by Eloise Williams with a group of pupils at Tonyrefail Community School earlier this year. Access an Author saw Eloise working with young carers at the school in a series of virtual workshops. A partnership between First Campus and Literature Wales, the project gave the students an opportunity to connect creatively with Eloise and each other during a challenging time in lockdown, and proved to be a very moving experience for all.
Eloise Williams said: “I am delighted to be the writer-in-residence at Tonyrefail Community School this year. I truly believe in the power of stories to enrich all areas of life. I’m very much looking forward to encouraging the young people’s innate creativity and hearing their stories told in their own way, using their own words.”
Assistant Headteacher at Tonyrefail Community School Cara Marvelley said: “At Tonyrefail Community School we believe that reading and writing is a crucial component in allowing our young people to find happiness and success in all aspects of their life. We are thrilled to welcome Eloise to our school this year and have no doubt that this opportunity will have a lasting impact on our students, our staff and our wider community.”
Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive of Literature Wales said: “We fundamentally believe that literature in all its forms empowers, improves and brightens lives. Bringing one of our best loved writers to work in a school for a year will bring literature alive for the students and hopefully inspire a lifetime love of stories. In these challenging times for our young people, we want to see literature used as a tool to help students improve their confidence and well-being. The young people will have the opportunity to express their emotions through creative writing and to find comfort and hope in the books they read. By piloting this residency for a whole year, our hope is to create a blueprint for other schools across Wales to engage with writers and create residences to inspire and empower children through the power of literature.”