BT and Barclays give budding young authors in Leeds the chance to co-write a new book with best-selling author of Darkmouth, Shane Hegarty

Creative writing competition launches, inviting young authors across England to contribute a chapter to an exciting new book In partnership with HarperCollins Children’s Books, author of the successful D arkmouth series Shane Hegarty wrote the first chapter to kick-off the competition and inspire the rest of the story

As part of the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme, St Georges Centre in Leeds is one of a selection of regional sites across England participating in a creative writing competition for budding young authors. Aspiring writers in each of the sites, with support from local Barclays Digital Eagles, will be invited to contribute a chapter for a brand new story by Shane Hegarty, author of the hugely popular Darkmouth series, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. One chapter from each area will go on to be featured in the final book.

Shane Hegarty has set the scene with a gripping first chapter, set in the Darkmouth universe, which sees our heroes, Emily and Damian, set-off on a whirlwind adventure across the country in pursuit of a mythical monster.

The competition is a chance for youngsters in Leeds, under the age of 18, to make use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi to continue the story, writing a 500-word chapter about Emily and Damian’s monster-hunting exploits in their local area. Entrants are encouraged to use the internet as a resource for their research and inspiration whilst writing their submission.

Research conducted by BT has shown that 43% of Brits feel proud of their local community when they share stories or memories of their hometown[1]. This competition encourages children to share their experiences of growing up where they live and include everything they love about their area - its quirks, local landmarks and unique history.

Author Shane Hegarty says: “The power of story-telling is universal no matter what age we are and my mission as a children’s author is to spark my readers’ imaginations. It is a common assumption that the internet distracts young people from reading. However, online access opens up a world of inspiration, as well as providing a valuable research resource. I am challenging young people to make use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in their local library to contribute to the story chain, thinking creatively about how they can incorporate elements of their local area into the chapter. I’m very excited to see what adventures Emily and Damian come across and to judging the submissions!”

As well as becoming a published author, one of the winners from across England will be selected by Shane Hegarty to win an exclusive Q&A via webcam with Shane, and a reading of the final story, broadcast in their local free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi library or community centre.

Emma Horsfall, local Barclays Digital Eagle,says: “We are delighted that children in the area are being encouraged to make use of the free BT and Barclays Wi-Fi. Shane Hegarty is an extremely popular author and it is an incredible opportunity for Leeds’ younger residents to put their reading and writing skills to the test, as well as to get creative by incorporating aspects of Leeds into the chapter.”

Anna Easton, BT’s sustainable business director says: “At BT, we believe in the power of communications to make a better world. Storytelling is a fundamental part of communication, whether to improve literacy skills, feed the imaginations and creativity of readers or simply as a way for families to connect. Not only does the free Wi-Fi encourage families and friends to tell stories to one another from afar, through email or online chat apps, but this initiative places the story in the hands of the people, enabling them to use the internet as a resource for research and inspiration.”

Elaine Draper, Barclays’ Accessibility and Inclusion Director says: “This is a fantastic initiative which plays to the strengths of the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community program. The digital revolution has opened up doors for online exploration and research. Young people can come along to their local library/community centre and make the most of this opportunity to build their IT skills with our Digital Eagles, and spark creativity for their chapter submission. The internet is a powerful tool for literacy and we are putting this in the hands of the future generations to ensure they have an understanding of its capabilities and how to make the most of online resources.”

For more information on how to enter the competition, please contact an onsite staff member at St Georges Centre in Leeds. Submissions should be no longer than 500 words, and must be submitted to your local site contact by midday on 30th November.

The BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community programme was launched in March 2015, providing free Wi-Fi and hands-on digital support into 100 libraries and other community sites across the UK.

BT and Barclays have both committed to support the implementation of the Government’s Digital Inclusion strategy which aims to reduce the number of people offline in the UK by 25 per cent in 2016. Currently one in five adults in the UK are still not online or lack the basic digital skills they need to get online. Find out more about the Government Digital Strategy and the UK Digital Inclusion Charter, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-digital-inclusion-strategy

For further information on the BT and Barclays Wi-Fi in our community initiative, please visit: http://www.wifiinourcommunity.bt.com

[1] Research conducted by One Poll of 2,000 adults across the UK in May 2016.