We launched the brand new Bradford Stories Festival as our Bradford Literacy Hub celebrates five years improving life chances through literacy.
Over 150 school children and members of the wider community in Bradford came together to celebrate the launch of the Bradford Stories Festival at Kala Sangam Arts Centre on Thursday 10 October.
Over the next six months, the Bradford Stories Festival will celebrate the different backgrounds, values and cultures of Bradford’s diverse communities, and provide creative experiences to help boost local children’s literacy skills. It is delivered by the National Literacy Trust’s Bradford Stories campaign and funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
At the launch, pupils from local primary schools participated in a series of creative workshops, led by local artists and performers, taking them on a journey of discovery about the city they live in.
Pupils and visitors enjoyed an exciting day of exhibitions and activities including pieces from Bradford artists, spoken word poetry performances and breakdancing – plus discussion and storytelling on migrant and immigrant identity.
A Living Library – where the ‘books’ are real people – gave visitors the chance to meet inspiring community role models and find out more about their unique experiences. Members of the Living Library included Ambreen Sadiq, one of the first female Asian Muslim boxers, Bishop of Bradford Dr Toby Howarth, Indian dancer and founder of Kala Sangam, Dr Geetha Upadhyaya, and many more.
The visitors and schools attending expressed their enthusiasm on the day with one visitor saying they were “absolutely blown away by the event” and a teacher from Horton Park Primary commented on the “amazing event […] the children learned a lot and had an amazing time”. The children too voiced their enjoyment with one saying “I loved everything so much” and another called it the “best day of my life”.
The festival will work with 12 schools over the next six months, providing pupils with creative and cultural experiences to advance their literacy skills and build their sense of community. This work will culminate in a spring 2020 event where the children will exhibit pieces of work they have created to tell their personal stories in a way that is meaningful to them.
The launch of the festival marks the fifth anniversary of Bradford Stories – a 10-year initiative from our Literacy Hub in the city, working to give children and young people in Bradford the literacy skills they need to succeed.
Since its launch in 2014, Bradford Stories has contributed to a significant improvement in children’s reading enjoyment levels, particularly for those from the city’s most disadvantaged communities. Between 2014 and 2018, the reading enjoyment levels of disadvantaged children in Bradford rocketed from 55% to 74%. Not only that, but the reading enjoyment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better off peers has all but disappeared (from 7.9 to 0.6 percentage points), while the national gap has widened substantially (from 2.5 to 6 percentage points).
The festival is funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as part of their work to trial innovative approaches to building more integrated communities.
The festival is a wonderful celebration of everything that is special about Bradford and will support children’s literacy skills as they learn how to tell their own stories, finding inspiration from the incredible people, places and stories around them. It is particularly special that the festival launches as we mark our fifth anniversary, looking ahead to build on the crucial work we have done with local partners to change the life stories of Bradford children and families.Imran Hafeez, Bradford Stories Manager