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Project information

Readers & Writers

We want to create a writing and reading culture in the UK's refugee centres and prisons. Literature has a part to play in community cohesion, integration and rehabilitation. We take literature to some of the most marginalised communities in the UK. We reach 1000 refugees and offenders each year.

Our project is ongoing

Charity information: English PEN

English PEN logo
  • Need


    Literature can help people solve different problems. With our refugees, we are trying to solve a deficit of creative opportunities, but there are also literacy problems (35% of male refugees felt "fluent" in English last year). With offenders, we're trying to solve literacy problems as well as access to arts activities. Literature can help people stop returning to crime.


    Literature helps people empathise better, putting themselves in the shoes of someone else. This can be immensely powerful in the multicultural and marginalised communities we are working with. As well as this, reading and writing enhances literacy and imagination, as well as the ability to think on one's own feet and take control of your own life.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To bring reading, writing, books and writers to 1000 refugees and offenders this year.


    » We will run 15 8-week writing workshops in refugee centres and send writers in to 20 prisons around the UK.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measured by the writing produced by the refugees and offenders, which can be accessed by the public in our book launches of their work.

  • Impact


    We will create writing and reading cultures within refugee centres around London and beyond, which will lead to greater literacy and understanding of British culture through the written word. We will enhance offenders' ability to take control of their own lives and use literature to cope better inside prison, as well as giving them an opportunity to empathise better with other people and the victims of their crimes. This will lead to a reduction in recidivism.


    The risks of all our work is low attendance. We reduce this risk through marketing within the organisations and within their networks and our networks. Within prison, it is easier to get a good turn out and we have great experience of marketing for our refugee centre workshops.


    Funders will receive a report every quarter on the project, detailing recent and forthcoming workshops.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £55,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £45,000 Refugee workshops 15 x 8 week workshops in refugee centres
      £10,000 Prison workshops 40 x day long visits by writers in to prisons around the UK
  • Background


    The project takes place in London and throughout England.


    Offenders, refugees and asylum seekers and writers will benefit from the project.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    English PEN is the UK's leading charity promoting the freedom to read and write around the UK and internationally. We have had years of experience bringing literature to marginalised communities. We also work to campaign for writers imprisoned around the world for what they have written and to support translated writing and reading.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Philip Cowell

    Readers & Writers Programme Manager