A former student on one of City’s short courses is preparing to teach his own and inspire the next generation of young writers.

Ciaran Thapar sat the Narrative Non-Fiction short course in 2017 – alumni of which have gone onto release books with major publishers – before publishing his own book ‘Cut Short: Youth Violence, Loss and Hope in the City’ in 2021. A youth worker and a previous mentor at The Access Project, Ciaran has dedicated recent years to enlightening others about the challenges many young and more disadvantaged groups face in society.

He will teach Writing for Social Impact in May, a two-day workshop aimed at anyone who wants to learn strategic and creative ways of achieving real-world social impact through their writing. Sessions will include how to conduct interviews, how to accomplish ethical and impactful storytelling and discovering different types of social impact.

Ciaran says the autonomy granted by City when designing the course was hugely important and is relishing the chance to support future authors, speakers, and non-profit professionals to communicate the value of their work.

“My short course at City was a major factor in levelling up my writing. It helped me plan my book, so I always felt indebted to Peter Forbes, and it was a hugely helpful resource in starting a writing career.

“Over the years I have written a lot about my youth work, London’s communities and the social issues they face, and I always aim to collaborate with and platform those who aren’t otherwise represented in mainstream storytelling. This course is an extension of that. In the last 18 months I have transitioned to mentoring younger writers, creating spaces to help younger people to have transformative conversations, and write about their hidden experiences of British society.

“If it inspires young writers to consider this as a career then that is great, or even if it is for them to write for themselves as a therapeutic practice.

“Although I have done lots of mentoring and youth work that leverages writing before, this is the first formal writing course I have run. It is a new stage of my career that I am excited about, and I want to help other writers find their voice.”

Ciaran Thapar

City has partnered with Ciaran and The Access Project to offer a scholarship on the course to former students at the latter – who support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access wider education opportunities – through a writing competition. The deadline for the competition is Monday 25 April, and the successful candidate will be announced on Friday 29 April. Ciaran says doing so is important to provide an opportunity that may otherwise have slipped under the radar, or never have been spotted at all.

“Whenever I do anything professional, I think of ways I can hinge socially progressive steps as part of the process. I know the value of these short courses and many people who do them may be better placed to access them. However, many young people may not know they exist let alone consider doing them. Giving a place like that to a young writer is so exciting, I can’t wait to see what comes of it in the future.”

Emily Pedder, Course Director of The Novel Studio and Writing Coordinator for Short Courses at City, University of London said: “I was thrilled when Ciaran first approached me with this important initiative and delighted to now be partnering with Ciaran and The Access Project to facilitate this opportunity to support a young student from a disadvantaged background.”

The Writing for Social Impact short course will take place on the mornings of Friday 20 May and Saturday 21 May. To find out more about the eligibility criteria of the scholarship visit the City website. For more information on the range of short courses at City, visit the website.