Scotland’s Capital, UNESCO’s first City of Literature, has played host this week (27-29 October) to the first meeting of a unique European partnership group, The Story Valley initiative, to coincide with the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott.

The City of Edinburgh Council, together with Edinburgh College, welcomed Story Valley partners from three other European UNESCO Cities of Literature – Leeuwarden, in the Netherlands, Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Capital and Nottingham, UK – as the group came together to create new policy ideas as part of its manifesto to use storytelling to improve literacy skills, while preserving and enriching cultural heritage through collaboration.

As part of the visit, the programme has brought together the city’s literary sector and cultural partners – Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) and Scottish Storytelling Centre – and showcased the exciting work and projects taking place in Edinburgh.

During the three-day programme Story Valley partners visited Edinburgh College to see the project in action, share best practice and explore potential collaborations; visited the Scottish International Storytelling Festival; and spoke to representatives from innovative projects happening across the city. These included: Super Power Agency, a creative writing programme, using writing for confidence building amongst hard to reach 8-18 year olds in Edinburgh; the Creative Words for Well-being project by the Scottish Poetry Library; Street Reads Library, a safe space connecting homeless people with books; the Digital Storytelling project by the Scottish Book Trust; and EIBF’s Citizen Project.

The programme was topped off by a light spectacular last night (28 October) as the Granton Gasholder, recently brought to life in partnership with Edinburgh College, as part of the £1.3billion Granton Waterfront project, was lit up in Story Valley colours.

The Story Valley initiative is funded by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union.

The City of Edinburgh Council, Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Donald Wilson, said:

“As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, we’re very proud to be hosting the Story Valley partner cities in Edinburgh for the first time, sharing ideas, inspiring one another and working together with the ultimate goal of improving literacy across Europe through the wonders of telling stories of our past. Through this visit’s programme our Edinburgh partners have captured our Scottish culture and Edinburgh’s passion for its literary and cultural heritage while also showcasing our world-renowned Storytelling Festival. Everyone has gained a lot from this experience and I’m sure will be taking a lot away with them while planning the next gathering to progress the initiative.”

Ali Bowden from Edinburgh City of Literature, said: “We’re really pleased to be working with Edinburgh College, the Council and our sister Cities of Literature on Story Valley. Edinburgh has a strong storytelling tradition and it’s great that the students and organisations working on this project are finding new ways for storytelling to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Edinburgh College Assistant Principal of Curriculum for Creative Industries, Jakki Jeffery, said: “We’re really excited to welcome our partners from Leeuwarden, Ljubljana and Nottingham to Edinburgh as part of the Story Valley project and are looking forward to showcasing the work of Edinburgh College’s Creative Industries faculty and sharing examples of good practice between the VET and further education institutions. Partners will have the opportunity to work on each of the Intellectual Outputs face-to-face for the first time and to meet some of our staff and students involved in the project to see first-hand what they have been working on.”

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