Liverpool-based initiative Comics Youth and the Big Lottery Foundation have launched a mentorship scheme that will give young people the chance to run their own publishing house. Children as young as eight and up to the age of 25 will be considered for the Marginal programme, which aims to give a platform to voices “all too often excluded from mainstream culture”.
The 12-month scheme will offer coaching, training, mentoring and guidance in a range of skills, from illustration and character design to writing, business development and editorial management. Based in Comics Youth’s HQ, the programme is intended to “change the landscape of UK culture by giving young people a chance to see themselves as characters in, and potential authors of, the books and comics they read”.
As such the team plans to nurture stories that reflect current youth issues in the UK, during a time when cuts to arts funding have meant that many of these voices are going unheard. There will be particular focus on underrepresented people from LGBT, BAME and working class communities, young people experiencing mental illness, with special educational needs, those in care and who have experienced inequality.
There will be 20 places available in the first year, with the editorial team given a budget of £5,000. The scheme is part of The National Lottery Community Fund’s £800,000 Lived Experience Leaders Pilot Programme, which aims to “better embed ‘experts by experience’ in all aspects of an organisation’s operations, creating opportunities for people with first-hand experience to be at the forefront of decision making”.
Comics Youth runs workshops with young people helping them to create their own comics and zines as a platform to express themselves and deal with challenging times in their lives. We spoke to co-founder Jhelisa Taylor-Brown about the organisation’s work back in 2017, as part of World Mental Health Day.