Derby Book Festival has today (28 October) launched a new book of writing by Derby College students as part of its Shared Writing community programme. Life on Hold: Young People in Lockdown is an anthology of short written pieces and artwork by 60 students from Derby College, reflecting on their lives during a year of COVID.
The writing is by 16 – 19 year-old students studying on the College’s Lexis programme who have only recently arrived in the UK and are learning English at the College. Many of them are refugees and asylum seekers. The artwork is by students studying on various art and design courses at the College, from A level to Art Foundation.
The work addresses the different experiences and reflections of each of the students, looking back on the huge changes that have taken place in their lives; what it has meant to them to be separated from friends and extended family, to grapple with remote learning, and even to lose a friend. For some, it provided the opportunity to learn new skills and allowed them time to reflect on their life and the future. For others, the isolation and loneliness were overwhelming.
Teaching staff and supporters had to work especially hard to put the book together under these unusual circumstances. Workshops – on graphic design and writing and editing – were delivered virtually.
Helen Bauer, Shared Writing Co-ordinator said:
“Publication was delayed because the graphic designer from BurntheBook, the project’s long-term partner, fell ill with COVID on the day the material was delivered to the Agency. However, despite everything, their hard work has paid off and we are very proud of what has been achieved.”
The book is now available to read or to buy on the Derby Book Festival website.
It costs £5 with all proceeds going back into the work of the Festival, a registered charity. The plan is to provide copies of Life on Hold as part of our new initiative to use the stories from the Shared Writing books in Derby primary schools, to help drive interesting learning and conversations in areas new to the pupils. One school has already asked to be able to use the book to help their own pupils discuss and process the year that they have had in lockdown.