Live Tales – A Volunteer’s view

By  Wendy Errington, volunteer writing mentor

In Newcastle city centre there is a scheme – Alive After Five. It is to encourage shoppers and visitors to get into the city, by being able to park for free. A great idea. Another fantastic, free scheme is Live Tales just behind Live Theatre, on Newcastle’s Quayside – this one is to encourage children to write creatively. And it certainly does, I can vouch for it, as I work as a volunteer writing mentor there.

Children’s writing does come alive and after a free two hour workshop, the children take back to school their very own printed copy of a story. A unique illustrated story; created by the class and then carried on by each child… some writing so furiously that they even finish telling the tale.

During the first hour the children work with the writing facilitator, who is an experienced drama worker, from Live Theatre’s Education and Participation team – while a volunteer illustrator beavers away producing two illustrations to match the opening of the tale. The second hour is spent in small groups with the mentors developing their ideas and writing: what happens next?!

Live Tales is Live Theatre’s new creative writing centre for children and young people and it opened this month. School groups can take part in a workshop for two hours for free. Yes! For free.

It is an inspiring adventure that the children go on and I feel fortunate to be part of this new venture at Live Tales. The children are free to write creatively, without being hampered by getting the spellings and grammar perfect. As a retired teacher, it is a joy to see the children get involved and enjoy this – as there are no right or wrong answers. I see some children looking apprehensive or reluctant when they arrive and then go away happy and feeling a sense of success. Those feelings are to be treasured and bottled!

The word free comes to mind a lot – free writing and free spirited. However, this free opportunity for children depends partly on volunteers. If you have time to spare on a Thursday or Friday morning, and would like to get involved, as a writing mentor or illustrator then please get in touch with Live Tales. (See details below). Obviously the illustrators need to be competent and be able to work at a fast pace, but the mentors need no previous experience and full training is given. The workshop is all child-centred and you are in the safe hands of the Live Tales team, so no preparation is needed – just come along and watch and listen to the children run with an idea, then with your small group enable them to get their amazing thoughts down on paper.

I would say fun is had by all. The children leave happy; their teachers are suitably impressed and the feeling I have? … I feel like Tigger bouncing along home!

Find out more information on becoming a Live Tales volunteer writing mentor or illustrator  or on bringing your KS2 class to a Live Tales workshop.