Budding teenage writers were given a chance to hone their skills, make friends and get a taste of university life from the comfort of their own homes.

For five weeks 15-17-year-olds taking part in our Aspire and Aspire Higher four year progressive project delivered by the Outreach team enjoyed virtual sessions where they developed their writing style, raised their skills, and boosted their confidence.

This event was funded by Make Happen and the Essex-based UniConnect team.

This was all thanks to our dedicated Outreach team who organised the after-school sessions over Zoom to ensure everyone was COVID-secure.

Award-winning poets and performers Yossi Goodlink and Tyler Luke Cunningham, were also on hand to help youngsters delve into the issues that mattered to them.

Despite being at home the keen group bonded quickly over their shared fear of performing and public speaking - which we helped them conquer.

The Summer classes inspired the teenagers to put pen to paper and culminated in a show where they performed their work.

Their eloquent, impassioned readings left Yossi and Tyler speechless and were met with applause… and Zoom reactions (of course).

One of the students even said: “I felt pure love and support from everyone.”

Away from the writing the budding-Shakespeares bonded over fast-paced escape rooms, chilled-out movie nights and yoga classes.

The students said they “managed to make so many new friends”, “express my feelings” and that “university now doesn’t seem as daunting and scary”.

Everyone involved made incredible progress with their writing and public speaking -gaining confidence and passion in performing.

We can’t wait to do it again… but hopefully it’ll be in person next year!