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Creative writing workshops benefit York children

Hannah Trott and Sara Dimmock
Hannah Trott and Sara Dimmock
Hannah Trott and Sara Dimmock will leave York knowing they have made a real difference to the lives of dozens of primary school children across the city.

A year ago, the 21-year-old English Language and Linguistics students set up Inkwell, a creative writing project, which has benefited children from Headlands, Badger Hill, Tang Hall, St Lawrence’s, Haxby Road, Yearsley and Burton Green Primary Schools.

Hannah and Sara developed three programmes aimed at seven to 11 years olds - News Flash, Poetry Lab and Story Makers - which University student volunteers deliver as a series of eight after-school creative writing workshops.

Hannah, who is originally from Worthing, says: “Schools can choose which of the three programmes they wish to follow and which children they would like to involve. The sessions are designed to be completely different to lesson times with lots of games and activities. For example, we have punctuation super heroes including Captain Pow (full stop) and Chit and Chat (speech marks), with the children getting to wear the hero’s cape and swoop in to save the sentence!”

Inkwell has established strong ties with the University’s Careers team and is accredited by the Children’s University.

Sara, from Hull, says: “Inkwell has been a great experience and it’s been really rewarding for the student volunteers to get to know the pupils and to see the improvement in their writing. Recently we received a really lovely thank you card from a parent who said she had been taken aback by the huge difference the club had made to her child’s work.

“Inkwell is very inclusive and we have student volunteers studying Astrophysics and Accounting, not just from disciplines you might expect, such as English and Education.”

This term, Inkwell delivered a four-week programme around the Tour de France, developed by a sub-committee of five volunteers. Called Destination York, the programme focused on poetry and writing about the city of York and places you can visit by bike.

In June, Inkwell ran a special creative writing day called Around the World for four primary schools at the University’s Ron Cooke Hub. Involving 88 pupils and 38 student volunteers, pupils used passports to visit five continents, each of which concentrated on a different style of writing. Hannah says: “The feedback was fantastic and it was great to hear how pleased everyone was.”

With a new committee in place, Hannah and Sara are confident that Inkwell will continue to go from strength to strength. This month Hannah started working for Reading University Students Union as a Volunteering and JCR Coordinator, while Sara is going to start a teacher training course at York St John’s University in September.

Sara graduated with a First class degree and Hannah with a 2:1, both in English and Linguistics, on 17 July.