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28 October 2014

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Adult literacy with BBC RaW

RaW writing

RaW Gloucestershire is an adult literacy and numeracy campaign - hear what goes on from those who've attended RaW sessions in the county ...

RaW Stories: Coney Hill Family Centre

Are you Ready? Able? Willing?

We are a group of parents and carers from the local early years Centre at Coney Hill.  This first ever BBC RaW Stories Workshop came as part of a Family Literacy and Numeracy course we attended with our children.  The workshop was aimed at improving the storytelling skills of parents and carers.

These are some of our thoughts on what a story is:-

Storytelling doesn’t always come from books
Stories are life
Stories are real
Stories can be whatever you want them to be
Stories are what you make them
Everybody’s life is a story
Everybody has a story to tell

During the workshop we participated in a number of activities.  These helped us to:

Work together as a group
Listen to each other
Communicate with each other
Learn more about each other
Use our brains actively

The workshop was very enjoyable and also educational.  The relaxed atmosphere helped everyone to participate in the activities. It was easy for everyone to get involved and improve their storytelling skills. There was no pressure for input and everyone enjoyed it so much that ideas continually flowed.

We would encourage other parents and carers to take advantage of these workshops.
Our thanks to the Coney Hill Early Years Centre and Simon Williams.


RaW Stories: Scout Enterprises

Scout Enterprises (Western) Ltd. is a Registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee, formed in 1983 by volunteer adult leaders of the Scout Association in Bristol North West District.

The Charity's aims are to provide work experience and training for unemployed people; to establish and support schemes and centres where people may be trained in employment; and to advance the education of the public, in particular those unemployed.

The Company started up as a Provider for the Government's Community Programme. Following its success running projects in Bristol, further projects were opened in Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Berkshire and South Wales.

With its concern for people at a disadvantage, the Company has taken a lead in the provision of pre-employment training for people recovering from mental illness, in collaboration with Health Authorities and Social Services.

We currently run projects in Bristol and Stroud. We are contracted to the Employment Service for their Work Preparation - Rehabilitation Programme in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Gloucestershire, the former Avon area and in North Wales.

In the London and South East region, and in Gloucestershire we are contracted to provide Support Worker services for those requiring help through Access to Work.

RaW Stories: Stroud College

Thank-you for coming to Stroud College last Tuesday to give us an insight on the sort of things that we should be writing into our stories to make them sound more interesting.

I enjoyed the way that you got our minds active by getting us started with a couple of daft games like throwing a ball to a certain person so that they could reveal some of our innermost secrets.

The yes/no game was very stimulating because it gave us the choice of saying yes or no to one another and of course, it was easy the first time, but when we swapped our roles over, it was more difficult because as I suggested “It’s not what you say it’s the way that you say it”.

By the time that we had played these two daft games we felt confident enough to cope with whatever ideas that you gave us to use. I also liked the ideas that you came up with for our stories like body language such as folding your arms or by making eye contact with someone. That Clapping Game was very good too because it was a great way of getting a rhythm going and it reminded me of a ‘Mexican Wave’.

During our coffee break it was so kind of you to come around and sit with us to ask us a little bit about ourselves because it made us feel more confident about ourselves especially if we had not tried writing stories before like you suggested earlier.

Coming up with a story of our own in our groups later was quite a challenge for us but of course you were so good to offer us two props to use from the bag that you offered us to choose from. We listened carefully to each story and I thought that they sounded quite good too.

I’d just like to include some of the other students’ comments so here we go:

  • Noel says he didn’t understand it at first he soon got into it and wondered if you could come again?
  • Caroline says it was interesting and she liked the ball game, it was enjoyable.
  • Peter says he thought it was fantastic because he liked making up a story in the group about Treasure Island, he also liked the Clapping Game trying to get into the Guinness Book of Records.
  • Stuart liked everything, it was good and he liked having the photograph.
  • Julie says everything was fantastic that we did with you, she liked the ball game, the clapping game and making up a story about Dr Who in a group. She hopes to see you soon.
  • Jackie liked making up our story, it was about a play group.
  • Craig says our story was about a battery and a set of headphones.

Well, we really enjoyed having you come over to Stroud College to speak to us about our stories and we look forward to having you come again some time if you can spare us some more of your time.               


1. Last Tuesday at Stroud College Simon Williams paid us a visit
    with such a large group of people in a circle of chairs we did sit.

2. First of all Simon introduced himself to us & he told us what to do
    & with some of his ideas we played 2 daft games for a minute or two.

3. Then to get a good rhythm going we did a clapping game
     Simon counted us in and we followed on by doing the same.

4. Time was getting on by now and we were due a coffee break
     so by offering us a bag full of props 2 items from the bag we did take.

5. We all felt refreshed from a biscuit and a nice hot drink
    & we found ourselves given strength and time to think.

6. Once our break was over our stories were then told
    we all listened carefully as each one does unfold.

7. And you certainly helped us if you could
    thanks for your ideas Simon as they were good.

8. Afterwards at being reminded one of Linda’s Jokes   Simon did laugh
    I found that this encouraged us for our smiles for the group photograph

9. Well, thank-you for coming to us because we had a lot of fun
    in coming to Stroud College it’s our hearts that you have won.

Composed by Linda Bilney - A Student from Basic Skills.

RaW Stories: Stroud FM

Raw Stories was an opportunity for a group from Stroud FM, a fledgling community radio station, to look at ‘What is a Story’ and examine the communication skills required to broadcast. As a community radio group, many of our participants are novices behind the microphone and the commonest fear is “What am I going to talk about”.

The Raw Stories workshop enabled a core group of us to look at the elements of communication, which in essence is telling a story.

Using the insights gained through the enjoyable session we now have a group who can help and encourage our potential broadcasters who wish to tell others of their passions and share their knowledge but feel unable to as they don’t think they can tell the story.

BBC RaW Stories Workshop at Gloscat

Monday 23/5/05   6.30-9.00pm

We are members of a Monday evening learning group at Gloscat, Cheltenham.
We enjoyed the BBC RaW workshop.  The story telling group brought us out of ourselves as we told our stories to each other.

It was difficult at first because we had to make up stories using different items or our own experiences, but at the end it was really nice and we enjoyed it.

We appreciated Simon coming to help us with our learning.  It was a very good experience and we would like a further workshop.

Dursley Education (History Group)

Monday 7th June

"We enjoy meeting together to learn and share 'unusual little bits' about historical times, people and places. We talk about how people lived and learn how life was different then-researching through archeology, picture sources and stories."

Southmead Book Club

Bristol - Monday 4th July

Southmead Book Club meets on the second monday of every month at Southmead Library.  It is open to anyone with an interest in "A Good Read" to come along from 10.00 am until 11.30 am.

Each month a book is chosen, in turn, by a member and then discussed by the group in a lively manner the following month.  The books chosen over the last year have included a wide range of subjects from "witches to war".

The library staff have given their full support to the Book Club by ensuring that there are always sufficient copies of the monthly book choice.

If you would enjoy a fun and stimulating morning over a cup of tea or coffee, please come along.

11th May Stroud College – inspired

Dear Simon.
Thank you for coming to the class last week and making it fun.
I enjoyed it very much and we had a ball and we laughed.
We played the several fun games including the clapping game.
And we told stories.
Raymond Walker, Stroud College.

Dear Simon.
I enjoyed what you did last Wednesday. I liked it when we rolled the ball. I enjoyed hearing about the stone story, it was a good picture of the mountain.
It was good when we each told our own stories, I told the one about the golf ball getting lost in a bramble bush. It was also very funny when we did the yes, no game.
Tim Taylor, Stroud College.

A visit from Simon.
Simon came to visit us all and we had to role a ball.
Say our name and give some info, talked with friends using yes and no.
With our voice being happy or sad, frightening, angry, loving or mad.
A clapping game to work as a team, left and right keep looking keen.
We did well but started slowly, we tried harder, we gave it a go.
Then we found we went quite fast, nine seconds was the time we recorded last.
Simon showed us a photo and a stone, told us the story of why he took it home.
A bag of treats he got for us, a golf ball, lego, dice and compass.
For each other a story we shared, short or long if we dared.
We enjoyed the workshop, it was fun.
Thank you Simon from everyone.

Robin Talor, Stroud College.

GlosCAT 7th June 6-30. Writings from the group … poems, letters and reviews.

What’s it about?

Arms open, eyes wide, lips not to pout, friendly body language is what it’s about.
Laugh, cry, whisper, shout, tone of voice is what it’s about.
Stand tall, be bold and don’t self doubt, confidence is what it’s about.
Use your emotions to get it out, talking in public – that’s what it’s about.

K Selwyn.

Hello Sane 
How are you my dear? I hope you are well and your studies are going well.
I’m writing to tell you about last week’s English lesson…for everyone a surprise, we had a guest from the BBC. His name was Simon and he came to do his RAW Workshop to help us in telling stories. The workshop was very interesting with a lot of activities and many, many stories. There was a lot of fun and after about half an hour, everybody seemed much more familiar. I have to say I had a very good time.
I hope you will be able to visit me next week so I can take you to one of the RaW workshops, yes I’m not joking. I really think it will help you with your confidence. We can go to the BBC centre in Gloucester.
I hope to hear from you soon, bye for now.

Love Ursula Przybysz

“Hi I’m Simon” – he smiles – phone Rings, “say hello to my wife”
“Tonight we’re going to tell stories about our everyday life”
My heart starts to beat, my eyes look down, the nerves kick in and just sit there are frown.
“First we’ll play some games to get you in the mood”
All creative thoughts leave me, I feel so rude… but through determination and encouragement the ideas start to flow.
The evening quickly passes, its soon time to go.
Looking back the night was a giggle and full of fun, I listened to everybody’s stories and enjoyed each one.

So thankyou Simon, the workshop was great…just a shame about the mix up over the date, Cheltenham’s loss our gain.

Tina Burns .

GlosCAT literacy students had a pleasant surprise on Tuesday evening when Simon Williams treated them to a RAW workshop. The surprise was that he had inadvertently turned up a week early, but this was no problem for such an experienced and capable practitioner.
RaW is an acronym we will all become familiar with when the BBC launches it’s Reading and Writing programme in October. The workshops are part of a nationwide awareness raising drive which will, the organisers hope, deliver a ready made audience in the autumn.
Rather than simply delivering information, Simon involved the whole group in various teamwork exercises. Individuals were also given the chance to contribute stories based both on their own experiences and on ideas inspired by various props.
If this sounds like your kind of evening and you’re 25 or over then contact Simon Williams at the BBC.

John Hopkins.

Diary Entry…
Turned up at college at 6-30 walked upstairs and heard lots of noise coming from the group, thought they were having a party. When I got around the screens there was a new man and everyone from the group, the man was from the BBC and was taking us for a RaW workshop about storytelling.
At the start of the session was group work, working together and just getting to know each other to prepare us to trust each other so we can talk about and tell stories about ourselves.
I enjoyed listening to everyone else’s stories and I didn’t mind telling everyone about myself but I did find it hard talking in front of a group. I enjoyed the workshop it was a nice change.

Kirsty Price.

Hello Judy, How are you?

I hope you and Tom are well…As you know I starting attending English lessons at GlosCAT a few weeks ago and last week we had Simon’s visit from the BBC.
Thanks to him I have a great idea for you. You wrote me in your letter that you have problems in your Spanish group eveytime somebody new starts attending. I can imagine how hard it can be for a new pupil to start being active during the lessons. The idea is to inspire them to tell stories, like Simon did. Get everyone together and ask them to tell a short story, it doesn’t have to be true. You could give them some random things like film boxes, padlock or string to prompt a memory connected to that thing.
They will struggle at the beginning, but you will see the result – amazing! And they will enjoy your lessons – I hope ;) 
I can’t wait to hear from you..

Love Gosia Odrzywolek

Last week my group had a visit from the BBC, the idea was to get us to tell stories and for us to understand that we all have our own stories to tell. Simon got us to tell him what we think is important when we hear a story being told and there is an awful lot to consider, he then told us we would have a chance to tell our own stories… I knew there would be a catch. The subjects varied from our most embarrassed moment to our proudest moment …it took some time , but needless to say we all had our own stories to tell. It was very interesting, however what I got from the evening is not yet clear… but as I said it was great to tell a story which has special meaning.

Steven Harris

On turning up at the group, late a usual I find the tables moved to the edge of the room and the chairs in a large circle. Taking a seat in the circle I am then told of the change of plan for the night, Simon has come from the BBC to host a Workshop.
Silly games ensued…clapping (we did 5”) and the yes/no game… which had my partner for this game reduced to tears of laughter.
Next we had to take an object from the bag to tell a story – mine was a battery. Lastly we were asked to tell three stories about ourselves (achievement, ambition and embarrassment) Mine were to grow old healthy and happy and to visit Canada before I’m 50 and a story which involved the mother in law.
I found this workshop very interesting and great fun, It enables you to get to know your group members a little more in a fun and educating way.

Dawn Trigg

GlosCat 13th June
Birthday letters - Writings from the group..

As usual today being Monday, Joyce & I went to tech, for our English classes. We had someone from the BBC called Simon Williams taking the class instead of Judy. We started off by moving the tables and sitting in a circle, then Simon produced a ball which was thrown from student to student, who then had to say their name and something no one knew about them. This was to help everyone relax and laugh together.

Next trick from was the clapping game … then the yes/no game and finally the story bag.
After the break we also had to share three stories…about an achievement, ambition and an embarrassing moment.
I think we all enjoyed the session.
Jean Parker.

On the 13th June we had a visit from Simon Williams who was from the BBC. Simon discussed the meaning behind stories and the telling of good stories. A good story teller will always achieve/use the following.

The way an individual will feel when telling a story – the expression on their face and the tone of voice – giving depth to a story.
The way a story is received to the listener – a story is interesting to hold their attention.
Following the ball/intro game we discussed stories. Then the group was split into pairs and we all played the yes/no game – this was followed by the story sack.
The group was then split into three smaller groups - we had to tell a story based on the item retrieved from the sack then as a group we had to retell the story to the main group.
The next exercise was a story of the past, present and future, the morning finished with a question and answer session and a group photo was taken for the BBC website.
Carolyn Johnson

Dear Cinds
Howzit there! So howz life been treating you? Mine has been very busy with college, 4 cleaning jobs and of course to keep my bombsite of a house tidy tidy and clean too.
Anyway I wanted to tell you about his RaW (read and write) workshop which we had during our literacy class last week. At first you felt a bit nervous and self conscious but as the silly kids games got going it became fun and you actually found yourself opening up. You even had to tell a story (anything you wanted, it could be true or made up) and you know me I’d just not do it and get a zero like when we did orals at school! Anyway I told about my time in Singapore.
Anyway all in all it was good…and also he gave us some info about RaW and how this can help with people’s confidence. Anyway Matie your one and only Sis

GlosCAT 15th June

work from the group.
Writers Block
Concentrating on my thoughts that are dead to the ground,
Silence…. Except the electric buzzing is the only sound.
As it rips through my head, filtering into my mind,
It stops reproductive ideas of every kind.

Turning off the electricity is a task I can handle,
Reaching out for the last solitary candle.
The silence is golden as I strike the match,
And now I can note down the ideas as they hatch.

This kind of block is a disease to a writer,
I shall have to wait until the morning becomes lighter.
The sun brings the suggestions which seems to be clear,
And the finishing of my book is drawing near.

By Gwyneth A Aston.

Gloscat 16th June

RawWorkshop a few reviews…

Simon Williams was our host from the BBC. On 16th June he gave us a special lesson about how to tell a story. We sat in a circle and at one point we had to take a random object from a bag and in a short time tell a story. It was a tough task for me, I picked a blue fish teething ring, I had to make up a story but found it hard to find any better words. However several students told their stories very well.
In conclusion, it was a very useful lesson to help us to organise our thoughts and will benefit my future study.

The Raw workshop evening started off with Simon introducing himself. To make it fun and to build assurance we used a clapping game and then a ball /intro game. After this activity we paired off and were each given an object with which to create a fictional/non fictional story. Also at the end of the evening we described/told the story behind a photo. My photo featured a group of people soaking wet from a water festival  in Chang Mai (Thailand) I was able to describe the event, the atmosphere and the place of the occasion. All in all it was an interesting workshop.
Kym Swire.

We attended a workshop on storytelling. The group moved the tables and chairs to give us room for a large circle.
We started with a warm up exercise which got us to relax. Storytelling and how we relay information to others is the main topic of the workshop.
A small bag was then passed round which contained some small objects, these were to give us a starting point to tell a story – I pulled out a small padlock which reminded me of when I made a bicycle lock in metalwork years before, I also told the group how I still like to make things from metal and that this is now my hobby.
We heard stories from everyone, some of them made us laugh.
The workshop was worth going to for me because it made me get up and talk to the group, this is one thing I’m not confident in doing. I had a good time in the class.
Michael Dean

And a story or two - “The models”

It was Nan’s birthday. She was going to be eighty years old and we had no idea of what to buy her. She had almost everything you could think of… so maybe garden furniture? Maybe a new set of saucepans? She just had a new fitted kitchen, so pans would be a good idea, wouldn’t they?
No, not saucepans, she can’t wear them, although she can be a bit weird sometimes! Then we had a brainwave, our two children enjoyed having their photographs taken, they were quite keen to go to the photographers again!
We booked an appointment, and on arrival the girls who at 10 and 6 are very fashion conscious took out their various changes of clothing. The session went really well with the girls jumping around and tickling each other.
Click, click, click went the photographer; she must have taken eighty photos or more. After about half an hour and various changes of outfits we finally got the photographs we needed and they were brilliant, all thanks to a pair of little girls who like nothing better than to pose and pretend to be models.

I enjoyed the workshop and will use most of the aspects when reading to my children and asking my children to read stories to me. The workshop was a real ice breaker as I had only been attending the class for a few weeks.
Caroline Martin    

My embarrassing moment.

The days back when I was small, I decided to run away from home. I went to another town where I didn’t know everybody.  I came across and met a friend called Uannee (which simply means unite). When I came to his town it was early morning on a Sunday and he was preparing himself to go to church. On our way to church he realised he hadn’t combed his hair. We went to a nearby house to ask for a comb.   While she was away Uannee managed to steal a piece of meat. So when we came to church and the pastor was talking about young people. The children of today steal too much! And he continued, repeating the same words about stealing. Uannee couldn’t hold himself, as he knew he had stolen something. Uannee decided to stand up and say to the pastor “you are talking about this piece of meat that I stole this morning”

Jeremia Kaambo


Adult Learners - Gloscat 15th June pm.

An Unlucky Break
One day I was putting up a fence with my son Lee and my  phone went off. I answered it and it was my mate Martin. We were talking away, I decided to sit on a branch to talk. Out of the blue the branch broke. I went on my a*** and my side, my son was in tears , not good!!

My Working Holiday
On Monday 23rd May 2005 at 11.20  am, 21 Greyhouse residents left on a week’s holiday with 8 staff on a 48 seater coach to Butlin’s,Minehead.  The coach stopped once on the way down.

The coach took about three hours to get there, we were  all happy singing, eating and drinking on the way.  When we got there the rooms  weren’t quite ready, so we had to stand  around  outside Reception and wait.

While the Butlin’s staff were getting the rooms ready, Greyhouse staff took the bags and cases to the chalets, then we all took the residents in wheelchairs and the residents who could walk off to their chalets.  On the  way one of the residents who was walking fell to the ground.  Staff ran to help because he was diabetic .We believed it was one of his diabetic comas but it wasn’t – he died on the spot.  When the ambulance came they tried to revive him but he was dead from the beginning – it was very sad.

    My Dental Phobia
I can’t remember been scared of the dentist before the age of 11. My mother assures me that I used to attend regularly but I can definitely remember been petrified from the age of 11 onwards.
I vividly remember having toothache late one night and my mom having to take me to the emergency dentist’s. I don’t know if he was really evil but he seemed it to me. By the time we arrived there I was sobbing with pain and fear. I remember him shouting at me to stop been such a silly girl!! That seemed to make me cry even harder and louder.
After lots of shouting he managed to look in my mouth and said the tooth would need   to be removed. He injected my mouth to make it numb I was still crying, very tense, very upset and very vocal.
Eventually him and my mom had to hold me down in the chair and he removed the tooth. Unfortunately he did this with so much force that he managed to rip my gum wide open resulting in 4 stitches and lots of blood. I couldn’t get out of that chair quick enough when he had finished and everything was over.
All this happened 22 years ago and I’m still petrified when I have to go to the dentists.

The phone rang, I picked up the receiver and said  ‘hello’
‘Ah, Gwyneth, I hear you bellow,’
Stifling a sigh I roll my eyes in the air,
‘You only rang me this morning, I’ve jobs to do, lets be fair.
A timid voice said ‘ Do you want to go out for a drink?’
‘Oh!’ I said sarcastically ‘just let me think’,
‘Shall we go to the Regal, or maybe the Brunswick
‘I shall let you choose the one you want to pick’
So I said my goodbyes and put the phone down,
Why can’t husbands just ask if you want to go into town.

My Wedding
On   April 15th this year my new wife and me got married in Mauritius.  We flew from Heathrow London. It took 12 hours to get there.  We had dinner and breakfast on the plane that was very nice.  There were empty seats on some parts of the plane so my wife and me had a couple hours sleep we felt much better after.  When we started to get near Mauritius.  We looked out of the window.  A beautiful aqua blue colour the sea was. We got to the hotel it was very nice too. We had four days before the wedding to relax, and spend a lot of time on the beach and in the sea.  My wife and me got married on the 21st April 2005 we had a great time that day.

last updated: 05/03/2008 at 09:41
created: 23/08/2005

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