The Hastings Opportunity Area worked in partnership with The National Literacy Trust to develop and launch Get Hastings Reading in January 2019 – a town wide campaign to promote literacy through events, free books and workshops. 2019 saw a series of high profile events including a poetry bus tour of primary schools, 1000s of free books distributed to children, the ‘Lost Words Trail’ and Radio One DJs Chris Smith and Greg James launching their new ‘Kid Normal’ book to over 600 primary pupils. 

In Autumn 2019, the project was taken over by the Education Futures Trust working in partnership with local providers Culture Shift, Hastings Storytelling Festival and The Fellowship of St Nicholas. The group developed ‘Read Your Way’ – a programme focusing on promoting a love of reading amognst children and young people in the most deprived areas of the town through delivering hyper local workshops, sessions and activities. Read Your Way is also building up a team of volunteer ‘Reading Ambassadors’ and is working with local businesses to distribute 10,000 free books to children by Autumn 2020. 

Storytelling Groups

Storytelling groups aimed at young people aged 4 to 16 with low literacy levels are running throughout the year to support the development of speaking and listening skills; the ability to sequence events and the extension of vocabulary, all of which are vital to the underpinning of literacy.

Literacy Creative Cafes 

Culture Shift’s hugely successful ‘Creative Cafe’ format, where industry professionals run speed workshops with young people, have been evolved to focus on literacy. Sessions include poets, writers, song writers and journalists leading workshops which use literacy in an engaging, non-academic scenarios – such as script writing and song-writing. These are taking place within schools for 10 – 14 year olds who are struggling with literacy. 

10,000 Free Books

Read Your Way is campaigning to collect and redistribute 10,000 children’s books to children in Hastings. The programme has been working with a number of key local partners to set up ‘Donation Bins’ where members of the public can donate books, as well as ‘Free Book Shelves’ where people can collect free children’s books. Free books are also distributed at all Get Hastings Reading events. More information can be found here.


Launch Event

Local performance poet Lucas Howard toured primary schools (below) giving writing workshops to 150 children, 800 free books were gifted to pupils and school libraries, 14 schools received assemblies with story-tellers and speakers, and the Rt Hon Amber Rudd spoke at an event with local partners.


Hastings 100 Reads

Get Hastings Reading reached out to hundreds of people in Hastings to collate a list of ‘100 reads’ – the most loved children’s books in the town, promoted throughout the town.

Greg James and Chris Smith launch their new Kid Normal book in Hastings

BBC Radio 1 super stars Greg James and Chris Smith treated nearly 600 pupils from 15 Hastings primary schools to a high energy interactive performance launching their new book ‘Kid Normal and the Shadow Machine’.

Literacy Champions

An ongoing programme recruiting volunteers to deliver activities in schools and communities.

The Lost Words Trail

The Lost Words Trail is a free interactive treasure hunt running from May – August 2019, where families search for nature-themed words around Hastings’ seafront, take part in literacy activities and can enter a prize draw.