Writing Facilitator Spotlight: Laila Sumpton

Posted by theministry on 27th June 2023

Meet Laila Sumpton, Poet, Folk Singer and top Ministry of Stories Writing Facilitator

  • How/why did you become a Writing Facilitator? 

To support people on their journeys towards finding their voice as storytellers and poets – we all have this voice within us and with the right encouragement anyone can become a writer or grow as a writer. As a Writing Facilitator you have the honour and challenge of being able to make powerful temporary spaces of exploration and understanding with a group – you never fully know what people will find, so it is always an adventure!

  • Tell us a little bit about what you do in a Ministry of Stories schools’ workshop

I use my own experience of being a dyslexic poet and learner to find inspiring ways to open up topics in a multi-sensory way and begin gathering the words we need for our writing. I break down tips and tactics needed for different forms of writing through small exercises which build confidence and help students work on their craft and a longer poem or story. Helping students work as a team of supportive writers is really important to me and I also help the group with performance skills and learning how to be a good audience.     

  • What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the children?

Over various lengths of projects I have seen incredible growths of confidence, a sense of pride developing in their work and what they have to say about our world. It is wonderful when you can encourage teamwork amongst writers so they can grow in independence, debate how to wrestle topics and concepts and support each other whilst performing. One student said that they had learnt that ‘creativity is not childish’ after one workshop, creativity is at the heart of all the changes individual, national and global we need and it is so important that students can have faith in their growing creativity. 

  • How do the workshops support schools’ needs? 

As a professional writer who is experienced in leading workshops in schools I can bring in new techniques to writing that can support both student and teacher learning. Creative writing is about how we can use craft to navigate our senses and emotions, and how we can make space to hear each other’s perspectives – I have seen how supporting a class to be able to do this well can help with how they understand each other. 

  • Do you have a favourite project or moment from a project? 

Creating an immersive environment where students can play with language, experiment and have fun without the fear of being wrong is so important to their writing journeys. In my Recipe Of Me workshops, some wonderfully surreal ingredients of their lives were performed with such confidence and a real sense of pride in their cultures and identities. 

  • If you had attended a MoS school project as a child, how do you think it would have affected you?  

As a child who was always writing, with or without being told to, it would have been wonderfully reassuring to gain advice on writing craft from a living writer over several weeks and to have a space to perform! I remember one author doing a reading at my primary school, which was great but I wish we could have worked with them rather than just been an audience – so that we could have felt like our stories could live on a shelf one day too. 

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