Our successful pilot programme, ‘Bridging Literary Divides’, focused on 1-1 mentoring for disadvantaged and under-represented writers by experienced authors and literary agents.
The aim of the programme was to empower people through writing and to increase literary representation of authors from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
By pairing up mentees with experienced authors and literary agents, we aimed to boost their confidence and develop their writing skills to publishing standard. At the same time, the mentoring expanded mentees’ writing portfolios by supporting submissions to competitions, magazines and other creative outlets. One of our mentees’ novels will be published by her mentor’s publisher (Jasami Publishing) in October 2022 and all of our mentees were published on the dedicated blog here.
Applications are now closed but we are hoping to continue doing similar work in the near future.
Bridging Literary Divides was a programme run by the Arkbound Foundation, a charity based in Glasgow. Our purpose is to support people from a range of diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds develop their writing and get published.
Since being founded in 2015, Arkbound has published an impressive selection of works from marginalised voices, demonstrating our vital contribution to an industry that is well known to struggle markedly with equalities.
We have also previously delivered successful mentoring initiatives in both creative writing and journalism (the latter of which was a lead project funded by the Council of Europe). Through our workshops and mentoring, we have reached people who would otherwise be excluded and communities who face multiple levels of deprivation – building skills, improving capacity and creating new opportunities.
Our ethos is one of sharing and collaboration, which has allowed us – despite being a small charity in receipt of minimal funding – to deliver a range of projects, from tree planting to national writing competitions. As well as supporting books that cover important social and environmental themes, we like to creatively explore ideas outside of the mainstream, including new socio-economic models (www.arkbound.ac.uk) and grassroots initiatives that build on local resilience and self-sufficiency.
The Bridging Literary Divides mentoring programme was funded with the support of Creative Scotland and enabled the employment of six mentors with experienced writing skills. Each mentor was matched with up to two mentees, with their work being developed across a period of six months. There were no set expectations for mentees: some needed help with finessing their writing skills; for others it was around building confidence and contacts in the industry.
Over time we encouraged and supported mentees to build their writing portfolios, whether that was submitting to competitions, other media, or working on a book proposal with an agent or publisher. Working with their mentors, they honed their writing skills and gained knowledge of the publishing industry. At the end of the mentoring, we have seen some become published authors, freelance writers, journalists, editors and proofreaders.
The programme was open to anyone living in Scotland aged over 16, who has identified as experiencing social exclusion or being from a disadvantaged background.
We hope to continue similar work in the future.
The six mentors for this project were published authors, editors/publishers and experienced literary agents. We were careful to ensure that mentors didn’t just have professional literary and publishing experience, but also a background in tutoring individuals, both from disadvantaged circumstances and otherwise. Arkbound ensured that our mentors were fully supported and managed by our core team. As part of our training for the group, we provided an introduction to, and digital training of our safeguarding policy and working with vulnerable adults. Our mentor group consisted of: