First Story is a creative writing charity which offers writer residencies for schools in low income communities to boost confidence and educational standards.
First Story was born when writer Williams Fiennes told teacher Katie Waldegrave about the positive impact of his work as writer-in-residence at a fee-paying school and they decided to bring the benefits to Katie’s state school. Ten years on, it has run 317 creative writing residencies in schools, with students producing more than 100,000 original stories and poems. Each child’s work is published in an anthology, which has a book launch.
National Lottery funding has supported the charity to run 70 creative writing residencies in schools across the UK in 2017/18 academic year. Moreover, their current three-year National Lottery grant has specifically funded 204 residencies benefitting 4,482 pupils.
Overall, First Story residencies have expanded from London to the East Midlands, Gloucestershire, Hull, Lancashire, the South West and West Yorkshire, focusing on areas where 50 per cent of pupils are considered deprived or GCSE results fall in the lowest third nationally. A total of 150 writers have taken part, including award-winning novelists, short story writers and performance poets.
First Story runs events to grow participants’ passion away from school. There are regional writing days and a Young Writers’ Festival. In June 2017, with the help of National Lottery funding, the charity launched National Writing Day for everyone across the UK to put pen to paper.