During our chat, Oli shared his enthusiasm for organising creative events aimed at engaging young people in reading and writing, as well as some of the challenges he has overcome.

Join us as we dive into the world of literature and creativity with Oli Nicol.

What are you most excited about in your new role as Co-Vice chair?

As Co-Vice Chair, I’m looking forward to being able to have a more committed role in the planning and organisation of literature based events aimed at getting the youth of Nottingham involved in reading and writing. I also look forward to listening to the members of the Board’s ideas and helping to work and advance them into fruition.  

Why should someone join the Youth Advisory Board and what advice would you give to anyone interested in joining?

The Youth Board is a fantastic group of young people all equally passionate about everything literature related. If you are just as infatuated with reading and writing as we are then it’s initially just a wonderful place to meet likeminded people – I’ve met some great friends through being on the Youth Board. Some advice I’d give would be to just be yourself – I know it’s very cliché to say but what makes the group great is the individuality that we all bring along to the board. 

What motivated you to join the Youth Advisory Board?

I joined the Youth Board because I wanted a way to have an active role in the literary scene within Nottingham and help to make it more accessible for others to get involved too. Also, being involved with the Youth Board means that you not only are aware of all the other events taking place in the city but also events in other UNESCO Cities of Literature around the world.

What do you hope to achieve during your tenure as Co-Vice Chair?

As Co-Vice Chair I am really hoping to help produce a zine collating poetry and works written during the events that we as a Youth Board put on throughout the year. I feel that this will give a sense of accomplishment to all those who attend the event and give them a space to get their work out there.

What are some challenges you have faced as a member of the Board, and how have you worked to overcome them?

One thing that I had struggled with before being a member of the board was having confidence in speaking in front of groups of people. However, within the events that we have held such as The Symposium for International Youth Day or during Nottingham Poetry Festival, I have been given the opportunity to build upon this skill.

Can you describe a memorable event or activity that the board has supported or planned?

A memorable event that sticks out in my mind took place at the event the Youth Board held during the Nottingham Poetry Festival in 2023. We hosted an open mic which encouraged young persons who have never read their poetry aloud to perform. Where more fitting than this to be the first time I hosted an open mic! In a rather last minute change of circumstances, I volunteered (rather tentatively) to host the open mic. Although it may have been slightly nerve-racking to begin with, it ended up being one of the most rewarding things I have done during my time with the board.

What skills or personal qualities have you developed or enhanced through your involvement with the Youth Advisory Board?

During my time on the board, the skills that I have developed the most would be the ones related to facilitating workshops. Before being on the board the only necessary skills I had for hosting workshops was my passion for literature itself. Through training sessions and hands-on experience, I now have learnt how to create workshops from scratch, create engaging activities and host a variety of writing abilities. This has led me to set up Invoke Poetry where I host monthly writing workshops at the Nottingham Writers Studio. 


If you want to hear more from Oli Nicol and Annie Cross, the two Co-Vice Chairs of our Youth Advisory Board, click here.