Impact case study: Toni Ford

“I am so excited at the possibilities I now feel are open to me.”

Toni Ford

Toni Ford, Inkubator participant to creative facilitator

Inkubator is an annual development programme for writers and songwriters who want to develop their skills in facilitation and participatory arts practice with children, young people and adults.

Inkubator provides creative practitioners with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver sessions with people in schools or community settings. Participants receive training, mentoring, bursaries, and placements within the New Writing North programme.

As part of the Inkubator programme, Toni supported workshops in creative writing, theatre and song writing for young people during the summer for 2023, as part of NWN’s Newbiggin Hall Creates community project. She had the opportunity to shadow and assist three different lead writers, gaining insight into a broad range of facilitation skills and techniques.

Toni now runs regular activity on New Writing North’s West End Writes and Newbiggin Hall Creates programmes. Toni’s sessions are often based on her own archival research into the local area and participants love her sessions.

The Inkubator programme was a wonderful opportunity for me

“Although I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing, I have never shared my love for it as anything other than a participant. I’ve taken a number of writing courses over the years and always gained so much from the process. I thrive when working with communities in my library work, so felt the Inkubator programme was a wonderful opportunity to combine my two great loves.

I wanted to learn how to facilitate others’ writing  and pass on some of what I’ve learned over the years. It’s also worth mentioning that I work part-time due to a disability, and so live on a low income. I couldn’t afford to do a formal course like this with a fee, and the Inkubator bursary was a huge help and really made the opportunity accessible to me.

Thanks to the training and shadowing opportunities afforded by the Inkubator programme, I’ve already felt confident enough to work with public library users on a short drop-in poetry workshop. I would never have done this before the programme. At my work, we haven’t got budget to pay external facilitators for this kind of thing, so I’m pleased to be able to offer it as a taster as part of my role. I met many like-minded people on the course – as both participants and trainers – and that reinforced my belief that I’m on the right path in my own creative and professional lives.

My shadowing opportunities included being part of the World Writes multilingual group, where I could use some skills gained as an ESOL teaching assistant. Another opportunity was a summer school in Newbiggin Hall, which really helped me gain confidence in working with children. I absolutely loved being a part of both sessions and am so excited at the possibilities I now feel are open to me.

Finally, being part of the programme has given me the nerve to fully identify as a writer. I’m producing more new work and am pursuing publication with new enthusiasm, so that’s great too!”

Toni Ford, 2023

Toni Ford is a writer and library professional from Newcastle. She has volunteered as an ESOL teaching assistant and community group facilitator. In her position at Newcastle Library Service, she creates engaging activities and events for adults around reading, as well as managing fiction stock and literacy support.

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