The National Literacy Trust’s Hub in Hastings was launched in January 2018 and is known as Hastings Stories. As part of the Hastings Opportunity Area programme it is a government initiative with the aim of improving social mobility and raising education standards in the area. The trust works with local partners and communities delivering activities to ensure children and young people in Hastings have the literacy skills they need to succeed in life.

Supported by Bloomsbury Publishing and two of their authors, the National Literacy Trust has recently announced Connecting Stories, a campaign to support children’s literacy in the local area as part of the Hastings Hub. Funded by Arts Council England, this project aims to increase children and young people’s access to literary experiences and books.

Left: Michelle Robinson
Right: Lesley Parr PICTURE: Benjamin Turner

With this in mind, the two Bloomsbury authors, Michelle Robinson and Lesley Parr, will be championing reading and creative writing in the Hastings community through inspiring visits into virtual classrooms during lockdown, and supporting a new creative writing competition for children. 

Participating author Michelle Robinson told HIP: “I dreamed of being an author since I was five and understand the importance of an interest in reading and writing from a young age. I’m very excited to be supporting the Connecting Stories initiative, which will nurture the creativity and wellbeing of so many children.”

The writing competition was launched this week, 1st February, and children aged 7-11 years in the Hastings area will be invited to take part in a creative writing competition with a unique theme, which will shortly be announced. Entries will be displayed as part of one of 19 Connecting Stories anthologies and displayed in Hastings community’s cultural institutions. 

Lesley Parr, also a participating author, added: “I believe it’s extremely important that all children are able to see themselves represented in what they read. This is why I write from the heart, and let my own working-class childhood and experiences shape my stories. I’m delighted to be part of the Connecting Stories initiative in Hastings, engaging with children and families to explore reading and writing.”

Bloomsbury Publishing will also be donating books to help inspire the next generation of readers and writers in the town. 

The National Literacy Trust is a charity dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of those who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life. They run Literacy Hubs and campaigns in communities where low levels of literacy and social mobility are seriously impacting people’s lives. They support schools and early-years settings to deliver outstanding literacy provision, and campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians, businesses and parents. Literacy is a vital element of action against poverty, and their work can change children’s life stories.

Alison Glossop, Project Manager, at the National Literacy Trust, explains further: “Throughout this difficult time, we have seen the positive impact of community and connecting with others. Connecting Stories aims to develop both new and existing relationships with organisations and businesses in Hastings to strengthen the culture of reading across the region. I am excited for this community-based approach, which will inspire children in Hastings to engage with reading and creative writing.”

Connecting Stories will be delivered across 14 local areas and a total of 18 publishers and 32 children’s authors are involved. 

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