How your support helps

Read how our programmes help individuals and communities, young and old.

Choose from the titles below to jump to a particular NCW programme

Escalator

Being a working-class and queer writer comes with unique challenges. Access and opportunities can be fewer and further between. Such were the challenges that faced Jon Ransom.

Jon – who “initially started writing stories on my mobile phone while my parents where terminally ill in hospital” – has seen his short fiction published in SAND Journal, Foglifter Press (Lambda Literary finalist for LGBTQ Anthology), Five:2:One but was finding the revision and completion of his debut novel (The Whale Tattoo) a challenge.

Jon joined Escalator, our annual talent development scheme open to unpublished early career fiction writers living in the Eastern Region – and in particular, writers who are under-represented on UK bookshelves.

“I’m working-class and don’t have an MA in Creative Writing,” he says. “But with Escalator, things are structured so that every six weeks I send Anjali [Joseph, mentor] a bunch of chapters and we talk about how my novel is progressing.”

“It’s clear to see how a mentoring programme creates a unique and supportive space to explore my writing without any pressure. Our discussions help me believe that what I’m writing has value. Outside of a programme like Escalator, especially coming from a working-class background, it’s hard to measure your progress in any real way.”

The Whale Tattoo was published in February 2022 to great praise, one reviewer describing it as “Raw, uncompromising, and authentic, a remarkable debut from an astonishingly gifted writer”.

Escalator and NCW is all about saying ‘yes’

Escalator launched in 2004. Since then it has supported more than 100 writers at the beginning of their careers, many of whom have gone on to sign with agents, publish and win awards and critical recognition for their writing.

“Queer and working-class I hear ‘no’ a lot,” he says. “Escalator and NCW is all about saying ‘yes’, to diversity, inclusivity, to championing every kind of writer at all stages of their career. The greatest thing I walked away from Escalator with was the belief that what I have to say has value. It would be a tremendous loss to limit access to the arts for under-represented voices who ache to be heard.”

Imagining Futures

Ciera Drury wanted to work in arts and literature, but poor A-level results meant she had to repeat her final year. Her future seemed far away as her options shrank and her confidence was low. She joined NCW’s Young Laureate development programme, an annual competition that helps young people get more involved with the arts while celebrating the writing talent in the region.

“I wanted to continue to develop my understanding of the arts scene and in particular literature, with a focus on careers in the industry,” says Ciera. “I felt the programme would give me the skills, guidance, and space to push my writing and creativity.”

And it did.

“The programme [which Ciera attended while repeating her final year of A-Levels] allowed me to think about what a career in the arts might look like. I was able to develop my love of literature into practical skills.

“This past year has been really tough for me. There has been a lot of uncertainty with school and exams. I found that the Laureate sessions became an important part of my mental wellbeing, providing me with a source of stability and comfort.”

The Laureate sessions became an important part of my mental wellbeing, providing me with a source of stability and comfort.

Attending the Young Laureate programme helped Ciera apply and successfully secure a place at Anglia Ruskin university on a Media Studies BA becoming the first person in her family to attend university. She also went on to edit the university’s creative writing journal.

Ciera is one of hundreds of young people we help to develop their skills and confidence to pursue hobbies and careers in arts and literature.

Priority areas:

  • Young Laureate
  • Lit From The Inside
  • Young Norfolk Writing Competition

Stories from the Quarter

Moving your life to another country isn’t easy: from language and logistics to career and culture. Most emigres set about settling in their new home: meeting people, learning language, building businesses and finding schools for their children.

With so much focus on integrating and the barriers of language and distance, too many unique stories go untold – stories of discovery, celebration, new and strange homes as well as those left behind.

NCW’s Stories from the Quarter provides a platform for people from Norwich’s growing Bengali community to tell their stories – as well as translate them for a wider audience. Through a series of engagement activities, the project also helps local Bengalis discover the heritage of their new home and the stories of others who moved to the place they call home of the centuries.

“I moved to Norwich from Bangladesh in 1990,” explains Giash, the owner of Tamarind Fine Dining in Blofield. “I’ve been seeing the cathedral’s spire for 30 years. But every single time I see it, it’s got a different light, a different shade. It’s like a new beginning every time. I feel so, so privileged to actually be here.”

Every single time I see [the cathedral spire], it’s got a different light, a different shade. It’s like a new beginning every time.

Through Stories from the Quarter, Giash has recorded his oral history. The interview, in English, has also been translated into Sylheti and Bengali for the enjoyment of the wider for community.

“The first time I walked into Dragon Hall, seeing the old beams, I thought, ‘oh my goodness. You just think, ‘wow, someone saw this 600 years ago and you so can we’. We need to preserve it for another 600 years.”

City of Literature

More than 140,000 people live in Norwich. Many of them enjoy arts and culture, literature, performance and discussion but not all of them have the means to attend paid-for events.

As part of our 2022 City of Literature programmes for the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, we created a free experience so that everyone had the chance to experience poetry and connect with the city in an exciting new way.

Called Wandering Words, we commissioned five lesser-known poets to write and record something about a particular place in Norwich. We also commissioned Access Creative College students to create soundscapes to accompany the poems. People could download or pick up a map and use the QR codes to access pages that hosted the audio, poem text and poet biographies while they walked between locations.

Not only did Wandering Words provide a platform for five lesser-known poets to have their work experienced by a wide audience, but hundreds of people got to hear these poems and explore the city in a new way. And the audio will remain online so people will continue to be able to enjoy it beyond the 2022 festival.

 

Dragon Hall

Dragon HallWe love our home here at historic Dragon Hall, but as is the case with 600-year-old buildings, custodianship comes with certain challenges.

The building has a long, colourful and important past. As such, it has a dual role in the local community and to heritage enthusiasts. And so we also have a dual role as caretaker for the fabric of this historic building as well as facilitating on-site archaeology.

Built c. 1430, its maintenance, repair and restoration need to be done by expert conservationists.

Dragon Hall also belongs to the people, and only through the continuing hard work and generosity of the Dragon Hall Heritage Volunteers are we able to open our doors to the public and offer tours.

None of this would be possible without individual donations, grants and memberships. Such funding is the reason people are able to enjoy 600 years of stories about medieval merchants, undercrofts, fires, witch’s marks and ‘houses of ill-repute’, all face-to-face with the ancient wattle, daub, bricks and beams.

Help us keep the past alive.

Luke-Witcomb-Photography
The Desmond Elliott Prize longlist event © Luke Witcomb Photography

Ways to give

Philanthropy runs through all our programmes, projects and partnerships it links everything we do and the impact we can have.

You can donate at any time — online, by phone or by post.

Ways to give and support NCW’s work