Project information

The Big Literacy Project

Progress at school is severely hampered by our boys' poor reading and writing skills. The Big Literacy Project will encourage boys to enjoy books and reading and enable them to gain confidence in writing and performing their work. SYLA works in close partnership with schools and local writers.

12 months

Charity information: Southside Young Leaders Academy

Southside Young Leaders Academy logo
  • Need


    Boys from the BME community score lower in literacy tests than the national average. Consequently they are at a disadvantage in secondary school and their education and future choice of jobs is reduced. Low performance in school frequently leads to a hostile attitude to learning and poor behavior, meaning that they are more likely to be excluded. Interest in books is low meaning that boys' vocabulary is limited, their ability to spell suffers and their exposure to new ideas is reduced.


    SYLA will hold a Reading Club every Saturday at which readers will work in small groups with a mentor and the more able readers will support the less able. The Reading Club will enlist the help of parents to encourage reading. It will also link the book to creative writing and presentation activities on Tuesdays,culminating in an event with Breis (actor, rapper and lyricist). Writing and performing own work helps young people build confidence and self-esteem which is at the heart of that we do.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To improve literacy skills and open the minds of young people to the benefits and joys of reading.


    » A regular Saturday Reading Club through 40 weeks of the year.
    » Invite children's' authors to come and speak to our Young Leaders.
    » To run visits and practical projects to expand and make more tangible the content of the book they're reading.

    What success will look like

    We will use widely recognised measurements tools, such as Neal Analysis of Reading Ability and British Picture Vocabulary Scales.

    Aim 2

    To motivate and inspire children to develop their creative writing skills.


    » To run presentation activities, debates and creative writing workshops with artist Breis.
    » To stage an event where the boys can present their work.
    » To involve local schools in promoting the Big Literacy project.

    What success will look like

    30 young people will write and perform imaginative pieces they have written to an audience of parents and other guests, and record their work to publish it on our website.

  • Impact


    The project is designed to support young people in school, improve their attitude to learning and reduce their chances of being excluded through poor behaviour. A good level of literacy is a gateway to many chances in life and gives a child access to higher education and better career opportunities.
    We follow the progress of our Young Leaders even when they have left SYLA and work closely with their schools to measure the long term success of our literacy project.


    One risk is loss of central funding to SYLA which might prevent us from running the Project. The other is people dropping out. We'll deal with the first risk by applying to as many funders as we can and by seeking City of London, local authority and local companies to sponsor the event. Also we'll look to schools to help provide practical support and we'll set up links with authors and publishers to try and ensure a good range of participants.


    Funders of this project will receive an immediate thank-you from SYLA with news about the Academy and our activities. They'll be up-dated on progress after the first three months and again before the Big Literacy Event to which they'll be invited.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £7,000 Reading Club 40 weekly reading clubs for 30 boys on Saturday
      £5,000 Creative writing worshops 40 weekly workshops for 30 boys on Tuesday
      £1,100 Premises hire Premises rental 2 hrs pr wk x 40 wks
      £1,500 Materials & facilitators fees Books, accessories, expenses for speakers
      £1,700 Accomodation Staging the Big Literacy event
      £1,700 Visits and Projects Activity costs linked to book reading
      £2,000 Administration and Publicity Book-keeping, payroll costs, printing info literature
  • Background


    Camberwell lies between Peckham and Brixton and close to Dulwich, centres where writers and artists have congregated for centuries. Arts festivals have grown up in recent years and we want our young people to gain a foothold in that field of activity. Festivals serve to bring the community together and for young people its a chance to show what they can do.


    The population of Camber well is 37,500, 20% are children and the BME community makes up 36%. Many households are single parent, 11% of black youths become NEET, 55.5% of black males aged 16-24 are unemployed. Young people aged 8 - 16 will benefit from getting encouragement to develop their writing and performing skills and they'll get their work showcased. Other beneficiaries will be local schools, teachers and writers who will get their work better known.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    SYLA is the only voluntary organization in Camberwell to offer wrap-around care, that works simultaneously with boys, parents and schools. We've had experience in running reading workshops and in developing creative writing and performing and in 2013 ran a project with the Apple Store in Covent Garden. We have close links with 20 local schools, with the Community Council and with the SE5 Business Forum.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Joshua Imuere

    SYLA Chief Executive. His role is to provide background support for the project.

    Konroy Swabe

    Senior Leadership Instructor. He organizes and manages the reading groups and leads associated education activities

    Beverley Wong

    Family and School Liaison Officer. She maintains links with our local schools and run projects for parents.