The Verbal Arts Centre was established in 1992 to be a space, both physical and conceptual that provides all members of the community regardless of age, background or ability with the opportunities, skills and resources to tell their story using creative means and to experience and engage with the stories of others. The prime purpose of the Verbal Arts Centre is the promotion of the language arts, celebration of commonality and diversity, development of knowledge, understanding and excellence in creative performance and critical practice across the verbal art forms, together with research, publications and provision of information.
The £4,000 grant provided by the IYF was used towards the operation of the READING ROOMS – GOES MOBILE project, a “Mobile Reading Room” driven to hard to reach, marginalised communities living in areas of high deprivation throughout Belfast and its surrounds. READING ROOMS – GOES MOBILE is a highly branded customised vehicle with the capacity to drive to inaccessible locations with a bespoke internal space to allow young people to get on board when static and participate in a Reading Room, wherever they are.
The programme successfully delivered a 12-week shared reading initiative with young people aged 12-18 living in the Belfast area. It was delivered in partnership with Extern who work to support young people who are disengaged with main stream education, lack confidence, isolated and dealing with mental health issues. This programme removed barriers to engagement by providing a weekly session with a trained shared reading practitioner who would use bespoke short stories and poems to spark a conversation. The literature provided a tool and enabled participants to discuss their thoughts and feelings openly on a given subject such as decision making, consequences, risk taking behaviours and developing the ability to empathise with others. For more information on the work of the Verbal Arts Centre visit their website.