Girls in Islington to take part in writing project inspired by legacy of Andrea Levy

The Reading Agency, Islington Libraries and All Change run a poetry and writing for pleasure programme with girls at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school

On National Poetry Day, The Reading Agency and Islington Libraries are pleased to announce that community arts and social change organisation, All Change, is working with girls in Year 6 and Year 7 at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school to deliver a poetry and writing for pleasure programme inspired by the work and legacy of Andrea Levy.

Consisting of three projects across the academic year, students will work with a professional poet and writer to explore the stories and writing of Andrea Levy, and to create and perform their own original work inspired by her writing. The students’ work will culminate in a live public performance event in the borough and will be documented in a publication and podcast. The students will also share their work more widely throughout the year through a series of initiatives including Windrush Day, WORD festival and National Poetry Day and more.

The project forms part of Get Islington Reading, a three-year project funded by the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington to develop a community of happy, confident readers across the borough, building on the work of local network Islington Reads. Delivered by The Reading Agency and National Literacy Trust, Get Islington Reading supports families of children aged 9-14, inspiring young people to keep reading in the transition between primary and secondary school when reading for pleasure can often drop off. By engaging students in writing for pleasure and introducing them to Levy’s work, the workshops will support wider reading habits, increasing their positive reading behaviours and building their confidence.

Andrea Levy, author of Small Island, was born in Islington’s Whittington Hospital in Islington in 1956. She grew up with her family in Twyford House on the Blackstock estate and attended Highbury Hill Grammar School (now Highbury Fields School). Beginning her writing career in her thirties, Andrea went on to produce some of the nation’s most celebrated and influential works exploring the lives and contributions of immigrants and working-class people in the UK. Andrea died of breast cancer in 2019. An Islington Heritage Plaque was unveiled in Levy’s honour on her childhood home in March 2020, at a ceremony attended by her husband Bill Mayblin and family members, Islington Councillors, Baroness Lola Young, and others.

Cllr Roulin Khondoker, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Equalities, Culture and Inclusion, said: “In Islington we are proud of all the amazing literature that has its roots in the borough, and Andrea Levy’s work is a brilliant example. She was a local hero!
“As an award-winning author, she had a huge impact on the UK’s literary landscape, touching the nation’s readers with stories about racism and injustice. I am sure that her writing will fire up the imaginations of the young women taking part in this project.”

Suzanne Lee, Artistic Director of All Change said: “Andrea Levy’s work and achievements are hugely inspiring to young women, but knowing she was born in our local hospital, grew up and went to school in Islington, offers them someone they can really identify with, encouraging them to see what a love of reading a writing can offer for their own futures.”

Karen Napier, CEO, The Reading Agency said: “We are delighted to be working with Islington Libraries and All Change on these fantastic workshops with young people in Islington. By engaging pupils in writing for pleasure and through Andrea Levy’s writing, we hope that we’ll see the young people building their confidence and their wider reading habits.”

The Reading Agency

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