Outcomes & Case Studies
Gateshead Young Writers resulted in the following outcomes, which are demonstrated by the case studies collected through Dr Annie Raw’s evaluation of the project.
Learning to trust others & create new kinds of social bonds
The Gateshead Young Writers’ programme catalysed and created new kinds of social bonds for participating young people through contact with professional writers and artists, as well as new ways of interacting with peers.
The beneficial, trusting and novel relationships that developed between artists and young people through our programmes are most clear amongst three kinds of young people:
a) those who already had a sense of writing as an activity they enjoy or excel in
b) those who were often disciplined for poor behaviour in school
c) those who lacked confidence or were marked out as ‘different’ amongst their peers
Confidence and self-esteem
Through our programme many young people took their first steps to finding their creative voice, or writing something they are proud of as part of our programmes, after initially expressing that they have no way of writing anything. The programme helped young people build their confidence and self-esteem through engagement with the New Writing North.
Many aspects of our work feed young people’s self-belief, which in turn fosters other social and artistic gains. One primary school teacher observed that the targeted activity we delivered at their school had been
“great for [pupils’] confidence … they’ve taken proper ownership… With their input, and the knowledge that they’ve brought to that script… it’s been lovely, really lovely”.
During a project in which a poet and film maker worked with already accomplished young dancers at a dance studio, young people commented on the confidence benefits they attributed to working with our project writer:
“The narrative side helped me to build my performance skills and give me more confident in everyday talking, and talking to new people who I have never met before”
“I enjoyed the creativity of the process and being able to create poetry which is out of my comfort zone”
Both before and during the pandemic, young writers’ activities in Gateshead had positive wellbeing outcomes for significant numbers of young people.
The impact of our programme on young people’s wellbeing is evidenced against the following indicators. That young people –
• are visibly more animated and engaged
• are willing/able to show enthusiasm (when previously unable to)
• show pride, receiving and acknowledging praise
• express ideas which exhibit a more developed perspective on their own life experiences
• are able to recover from setbacks
• express ownership of their participation
• say they feel happier and they enjoyed the project
These outcomes are attributed in evaluation to young people being part of a safe space that is different to their everyday experience at school or home; the interactions, the relationships, the creative activities, as well as the sense of time, patience and expertise provided by our professional artists and writers.
Our programmes demonstrate the now well-established idea that safe, creative spaces can offer young people a chance to recreate their perspectives on life experience, on themselves and on their context. Through our young writers’ programmes, young people can experiment with different ways of being themselves in spaces that provide rehearsal opportunities which they can draw on in other aspects of life.
Young people as artists and creative thinkers
The writers and artists we work with enable young people to establish new and better connections to writing as an activity. Through our Gateshead Young Writers’ programme, writing became something young people were reassessing as fun, positive and fulfilling.
The expanded sense of what is possible in writing that young people gained, as well as the exciting and high-quality professional nature of the work they produce with us contributes to their own sense of themselves artists and creative thinkers. This also impacts how they are seen by their peers, teachers and families.
The quality, personal depth and investment evident in the work produced by young people through this programme, as well as the care taken in their presentation of it to peers and audiences, shows the participants’ connection to writing.
As can be seen in case studies and testimonies, teachers and community group leaders have been continually surprised by the writing the young people produce as part of our programmes.
Engaging with new ideas and new cultural experiences
Gateshead Young Writers’ programme has supported several young people to recognise and develop their writing talent. Case studies show that young people who have an existing connection to writing, as well as others who were previously alienated by writing, developed their own artistic voice through their engagement with New Writing North.
The after-school clubs were catalytic for a small number of engaged young writers, who had access to supportive and open professionals to support their creative ambitions. Other young people’s talents emerged more unexpectedly and found support to flourish through the programme. The writing young people have produced through our programme shows real potential for future creative pathways.
In our Gateshead programme, the interruption of COVID 19 prevented these seedling relationships with NWN to establish further, but the NWN model has shown itself to be able to uncover new writing talent through our work with young people.