"One of the most striking things about the contribution of DCMS sectors to last year's summer activities work was that of libraries. I think the responsiveness of the sector, and the quality of provision delivered, opened many people's minds to their potential role in helping to address social policy problems."

Phil Clapp
Education and Social Policy Unit
DCMS

"In running The Reading Agency's work on the government's Splash and PAYP programmes, Sue Stewart of Write2B has done a wonderfully effective job, combining government liaison with the creation of briefing materials for libraries, project evaluation with partnership building. We are immensely grateful to her."

Miranda McKearney
Director
The Reading Agency

Splash Extra

In 2002, Sue was commissioned by The Reading Agency to manage its £300,000 national libraries' reader development project for Splash Extra, the government's programme of diversionary summer activities for young people at risk of offending. Funding for Splash Extra came from the New Opportunities Fund and was routed through the Youth Justice Board and, for arts activities, through Arts Council England. The funding had been confirmed at a late stage (being additional to Summer Splash), which meant that the timescale for delivering this work was a very challenging one for all parties.

Splash Extra was part of a wider national crime-cutting initiative that involved a range of schemes, including the original Summer Splash. The national programme was targeted at the 10 SCRI Police Force areas, and at crime hotspots within those areas. Young people at risk of offending were identified by a team of agencies including Youth Offending Teams, Connexions, Rapid Response Team and New Start.

Sue worked with 10 English library authorities to co-ordinate the programme of activity. This involved a range of work including liaison with the Youth Justice Board and Arts Council England; recruitment of library authorities; writing advocacy and briefing documents for libraries, Youth Offending Teams, youth workers and artists; establishing support services and facilities for libraries such as an interactive website and visits from reader development specialists; and contributing to an Evaluation Report.

Libraries delivered a varied and largely successful programme of reading-related multimedia arts activities throughout the summer. These reached 2,500 young people within the designated target groups, the majority of whom have never previously set foot in a library, and for whom the world of words, books and reading was unknown, alien or hostile territory. Using the young people's own interests and enthusiasms as a starting point, the libraries programmed a range of arts activities with artists skilled at making unobtrusive links between their art form and words, books and reading. Activities included music, DJ-ing, digital camera work, video, drama, poetry, storytelling, circus skills, drumming, cartooning, real-life exotic animal handling, illustration and juggling.

That libraries are user-friendly community spaces with activities, books and magazines of interest to them, was a revelation for some young people, and the observations made by librarians, youth workers and young people themselves have revealed some interesting and significant shifts in perceptions and attitudes. The young people have been brought closer to the world of words, books and reading, despite many of them having low literacy levels and having previously associated books with formal education and/or failure. This has opened up a whole new world of the creative imagination for many of them, and they have enjoyed the experience. Other successes relate to the organisational skills of libraries, and the interest and enthusiasm created by inter-agency partnerships.

For further information, see the Evaluation Report.

Splash Extra was superseded by the government's multi-million pound initiative, Positive Activities for Young People, a much broader scheme lasting three years, across the whole of England, and covering all holiday periods.