for Arts
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Literature | Across Leicester, Nottingham and Derby

Writing East MidlandsWrite Here: Sanctuary

Writing East Midlands supports writers in the East Midlands at various stages of their careers and encourages new relationships between writers and communities by running residences in varied settings such as schools, museums, libraries, theatres, prisons and care homes, and by developing creative projects with a wide variety of partners.

Write Here: Sanctuary is one of their residency projects taking place in Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, and delivered in partnership with City of Sanctuary (charities providing services and activities to welcome those seeking sanctuary).

Writing East Midlands

Writing East Midlands

Writing East Midlands

Writing East Midlands

Target Beneficiaries

The target beneficiaries are refugees and asylum seekers from Eastern Europe, South Asia, the Middle East and North and sub-Saharan Africa. They are identified through the Cities of Sanctuary and other refugee support groups.

The programme aims to use spoken word, story-telling and creative writing activities to increase confidence and to create a sense of wellbeing and inclusion for participants as well as building their confidence in using English.


Write Here: Sanctuary is delivered in partnership with City of Sanctuary and Nottingham Women’s Cultural Exchange.

The workshops are each delivered by two professional writers, one taking the role of lead writer, and the other as assistant. There is no set formula for the workshop, with the writers able to develop a bespoke format for each setting drawing upon the participants’ own literary cultures, stories and changing sense of place. The workshops are designed to encourage participation in creative activity through spoken word, story-telling and creative writing activities with the aim of creating work for performance, to be shared online and through a published anthology.

The success of the programme has been showcased through performances at Literary Festivals in the three cities as well as the publication of an anthology of the group’s creative work called Riding on Solomon’s Carpet.


Since the programme began in 2016 it has worked with over 260 refugees, asylum seekers and new arrivals with over 142 creative sessions, 889 creative engagements and 1778 hours of creative activity.

Evaluation of the programme by the University of Nottingham showed that:





In addition to the statistics above:

  • facilitators observed improved English language skills across all groups
  • participants stated the importance of group learning and supporting each other
  • participants also stated how the sessions had given a sense of hope for the future as a result of the skills and knowledge they had learned
  • in terms of wellbeing, the sessions gave participants a reason to get out of the house, reducing their isolation and providing a time for enjoyment and happiness
  • participants also stated the value of the sessions as a chance to ‘feel heard’ and to feel a sense of belonging
  • participants stated increased self-esteem and confidence in their ability to speak and write but also their overall sense of wellbeing through being better able to communicate

A Creative Toolkit has been developed to distribute to participants and stakeholders and there are further plans to create a ‘best practice toolkit’ to be used as an advocacy document and disseminate to other organisations interested in developing work in this area.

The project is pivotal to Writing East Midlands emergent Lit.lab concept which thinks around arts provision for social benefit and the development of appropriate evaluative processes and advocacy resources.

Writing East Midlands toolkits


it really give me a chance to express myself…


…it’s one thing to be a writer but it's a completely different thing to read your work to other people. You’re afraid of what they might think or what they might say. But by coming through these workshops, I’m not afraid anymore … my self-esteem has developed. I’m more confident in my writing, I’m more confident in presenting my work…



Awards for All, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Henry Smith Charity, Rayne Foundation, Santander Bank, and Arts Council England.