Yorkshire-based social enterprise The Opportunity Centre (formerly aspire-igen) has been a key partner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize since 2015 and the 2020 first prize was called the aspire-igen award in recognition of this valued sponsorship.
The Opportunity Centre provides employability training and guidance, offering young people and adults independent careers and training help and advice. It has 8 opportunity centres across Yorkshire, with specific programmes to help 16 – 19 year olds, support for schools and colleges, apprenticeship training, work experience placements, as well as careers advice for all ages.
The Prize and The Opportunity Centre have been working together creatively during this period to find connections and develop initiatives for mutual benefit.
The Opportunity Centre’s diverse customer group have gained valuable event management experience working with core Prize partner Ilkley Literature Festival (ILF) during its busy Autumn festival season of literary events, and some have enjoyed the experience so much that they have gone on to join ILF’s volunteer team.
Top three winning authors from 2016, Amita Murray, Winnie M Li and Jamilah Ahmed, ran a fascinating and inspiring workshop session for aspire2work learners studying English in 2017, including readings from their winning entries and group workshops in writing from personal experience, generating ideas, developing characters and scenes. 2018 winner Shereen Tadros worked with GCSE students to support their creative writing development, using life experience to create richer stories.