The key aims of this project were

  • To provide new opportunities for young people in Nottingham and increase  our engagement within our local community
  • To provide an engaging and high quality Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme for young people in Nottingham
  • To spread awareness of English PEN and the Common Currency programme

Summer of Freedom Reads was developed in partnership with English PEN, one of the world’s oldest human rights organisations. During that year English PEN was also celebrating its centenary year and this project was part of their Common Currency programme. The programme included talks from inspiring speakers including Professor Corinne Fowler,, Panya Banjoko and Professor Sharon Monteith.

Our series of three workshops were held in the historic National Justice Museum on 8, 15, and 22 August 2021 (12-4pm). The sessions looked at themes such as protest, free speech and democracy. We also took a deep dive into some of the most famous (and infamous) books to have sparked public outrage.

Workshop attendees also discussed censorship and how it has differed over time and place. They also received professional writing advice in a letter writing workshop. #PENWrites is English PEN’s international letter-writing campaign in solidarity with writers in prison and at risk around the world. For decades, PEN has supported writers who are unjustly persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and PEN members have long supported fellow writers by sending them letters of support.

  • 20 young people from Nottingham took part in the workshops
  • 57% of participants come from UK areas of deprivation
  • 28% considered themselves to have a disability or long-term health condition
  • 65% said the workshops helped them to develop new skills
  • 65% said the workshops helped them to discover new writers
  • 82% felt they learned more about freedom of expression

‘It was the most well-organised and exciting writing programme I’ve participated in, and I’ve been to many in the past. You did an amazing job in organising it all and I won’t forget the workshops. I feel like I have a much better insight into the work of English Pen, and cant wait to get more involved with their letters of solidarity project.‘’ –Nidaa, 18

“I really enjoyed finding different ways to write and I especially enjoyed when we shared our work. I’ve learnt how difficult it is for some people with writing, and how discriminatory some people are. It was an amazing opportunity and I’m glad I was chosen. If this could be my job for the rest of my life, I would enjoy it!” –Alanna, 14

“I really enjoyed all the activities and social aspect, as well as the development of writing and a dive into poems. Also a huge thank you for all the books- i’m so excited to read them.” –Jess, 16

For more information about our outcomes please see the full project report below