We are delighted to announce the launch of our brand new Youth Advisory Board (YAB), which will be made up of nine young people from Nottingham aged between 16-25 who have been specially selected for the role.

We received seventeen brilliant applications to join the board. Following a rigorous selection process with our trustees, Khaya Job and Emily York, we narrowed our selection down to just nine members.

The board will play a key role in shaping the future of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature as we place young people at the forefront of the organisation and continue to advocate for accessibility, diversity, and inclusion. We value and want to elevate the voices of young people so that they can make decisions about issues that directly affect them.

The Youth Advisory Board’s primary role will be to share exciting ideas, review and question existing processes, and instigate positive change so that Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature can keep growing and creating new opportunities for young people. We’ll meet regularly at Youth Advisory Board meetings, which will encourage honest conversations about how we currently engage with young people and how we might design our future creative programmes.

The first meeting of the Youth Advisory Board

First YAB Meeting

On Thursday 4th February, we kicked off the Youth Advisory Board meeting by sharing the books we are reading and the causes we are all passionate about. It was fantastic to see everyone join together (virtually, of course!) and discuss all the exciting upcoming projects at City of Literature.

YAB member Joe Hood Mooring said: “I’m passionate about this opportunity to promote reading and writing”

Fellow member Jodie Price said: “I’m excited to work with the like minded members of the board to create positive and lasting changes that will go on beyond our term.”

The meeting began with an official welcome from Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, and was followed by introductions, team-building activities, and a Q&A session. We also heard from guest speaker Ege Dündar, OEN International Youth Coordinator at English PEN and founder of Ilkyaz (a creative platform for young writers).

The YAB members told us the things that matter to them that they would bring to the board to help progress our mission to build a better world with words. These included access to libraries; the climate crisis; mental health (and the therapeutic role of words); making poetry ‘lovable’; feminism and wildlife conservation.

The meeting featured guest speakers Ege Dündar and Cat Lucas from International PEN, who explained more about PEN’s mission and forthcoming centenary. Ege, a Turkish journalist who is in exile in Greece, told the YAB how words could reach out to those who are persecuted for their beliefs around the world:

Literature kind of crosses that boundary…literature is a common source of pride for everyone. Once you form it, it will grow by itself and we support each other like you guys are doing right now.

The YAB will meet reguarly throughout the year, with individual members invited to participate in all City of Literature activity throughout their term.

Our YAB members are:

Abigail Hutchinson
Connor Brown
Deanna El Khoury
Emani Francis
Jodie Price
Joe Hood Mooring
Minh-Anh Nguyen
Nidaa Raoof
Zach Omitowoju

More information about the members and what brings them to the board can be found here.

Sandeep Mahal, Director of NUCOL, said:

“Our Youth Advisory Board gives young people a platform to get their views and voices heard. The current crisis has presented us all with enormous challenges and none more so than the thousands of young people coping with home learning whilst under lockdown. What came across loud and clear from our YAB is that young people are hungry for creative reading and writing challenges to stimulate thinking, support learning and preserve mental well-being. We were delighted to have guest speakers, Cat Lucas and Ege Dündar talking about English PEN’s centenary year and their #PENWrites letter writing campaign. YAB members explored the idea of how literature and writing can be political, and how individuals have the power to change the world through writing. Their ideas are already influencing our response to Covid-19 and will contribute directly to our vision and planning.”