About the programme

Our outreach programme, Readers & Writers, is for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, refugees and asylum seekers, and prisoners and young offenders. It offers vulnerable, often marginalised and unheard people the opportunity to express their voices by taking part in imaginative and transformative creative writing and reading projects. They also have the chance to explore world literature and free speech.

Our approach

Our creative programme helps people enjoy their freedom to write and freedom to read, promotes a lifelong engagement with literature and improves literacy. It also champions the multilingual skills of many of the people we work with through creative translation projects. Professionally produced anthologies of writing by participants are published and often launched at celebration events where these new writers can perform their work.

Every year our cohort of professional, published writers lead inspiring and transformative creative writing workshops and events. Our English PEN writers are highly skilled in working with diverse communities. They include Avaes Mohammad, Bidisha, Dzifa Benson, Femi Martin, Inua Ellams, Joelle Taylor, Kat Lewis, Malika Booker, Shazea Quraishi, Rosemary Harris, and Simon Mole.

Refugees and asylum seekers

English PEN collaborates with Refugee Community Organisations to organise creative writing and translation workshops for people with refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds.

"My work with English PEN’s Readers & Writers programme is the most satisfying and valuable work I engage in outside writing. I appreciate the privilege of working with new writers to support them in finding a voice and a way to tell their stories. With PEN I have always felt respected and valued as a writer, and supported to design and deliver accessible, inspiring sessions."

Malika Booker, Poet

Our partners

Our funding and host partners play a vital role in providing spaces for English PEN’s range of outreach activities. We are pleased to have worked closely with many brilliant organisations.

Image credits: Suzi Corker