Press Release: Announcing Many Voices, a Scottish PEN project

Scottish PEN announces its 18-month project MANY VOICES. In this press release you will find more information on writers and partner organisations involved.

March 2, 2017

Funded by Creative Scotland and in partnership with six Scottish organisations

Aims to give marginalised groups and communities across Scotland opportunity to express themselves through writing workshops and events

Many Voices is Scottish PEN’s 18-month project, bringing together Scottish and international writers to collaborate with marginalised groups and communities across Scotland, exploring through writing and discussion the themes most important to them. The project is funded by Creative Scotland, and run in partnership with six organisations; Apex Scotland, Fife College working at HMP and YOI Polmont, International Women’s Group Glasgow, LGBT Youth Scotland, Move On and Orkney Library & Archive. (see below for more information)


The project will consist of a series of writing workshops led by writers – Alison Miller, Sarah Short, Karen Campbell, Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Nat Raha .

Through these writing workshops, the project aims to provide a platform and empower more marginalised communities across Scotland, facilitating the development of new voices and framing a conversation about ideas and issues important to them, and achieving a better understanding of issues affecting marginalised communities in Scotland today.  It will give people the chance to make their voices heard on a platform they are often denied because of their gender, race, ability, sexuality, social class or disadvantaged location, presenting a real opportunity for people to speak for themselves and express their experiences. The themes explored will likely involve issues such as homelessness, growing up as LGBT young person, life as a refugee or as an offender, and living in an isolated island community – but each group will be participant-led and ultimately determine the stories they want to tell.

Scottish PEN will work closely with the partner organisations, valuing their expertise and unique perspective on the needs of the groups to develop a new way of engaging communities and marginalised groups with writing, increase the participants’ own confidence in their ability to write, and help bring these new voices to a larger audience through events as part of local festivals and audio interviews, blogs, and online resources.
Quote from Carl MacDougall, President of Scottish PEN:

“We are grateful to Creative Scotland for supporting the Many Voices project – a project that will help strengthen and amplify voices that are so often unheard.”

Quote from Karen Walker, Principal Librarian at partner organisation Orkney Library & Archive:

“We are delighted to be joining the Many Voices project. Dialect writing will be a feature of several local workshops delivered by our leader, Alison Miller. Encouraging folk to write in dialect to promote local literature is the aim to ensure the freedom of speech for marginalised voices which Scottish PEN advocates.”

Quote from Linda Stewart, Literacy Officer at partner organisation Move On:

“We at Move On are passionate that disadvantaged groups are given a voice.  Many of our service-users have experienced homelessness, addiction problems and literacy difficulties so have several barriers to expressing themselves in written form.  This project will give them the chance to recognise and embrace their talent and give them some recognition for the work they produce.”

Quote from Heini Huhtinen, Many Voices Project Officer:

“If we really want writing to convey new ideas, overcome barriers and borders and create powerful connections, we also need to think about new ways to nurture the voices that might not otherwise be heard in literature. That’s why I’m so excited and honoured to be working as the Project Officer for Scottish PEN’s new Many Voices project, which will support and empower more marginalised communities and groups across Scotland to engage with writing, express their experiences and ideas and shape the conversation about issues affecting them.”

Quote from Christina Neuwirth, Project Manager:

“Many Voices is an ambitious project that would not have been possible without the support of Creative Scotland, for which we are very grateful. It is vital to not speak on behalf of silenced groups but instead provide a platform where they can speak for themselves and tell their own stories. We have had an opportunity to put together a strong staff team to support the project, with one new staff member moving from London to Scotland for the position. Together, we have built fruitful relationships with our project partners. These form the basis for running a project that prioritises on the needs and interests of the workshop participants.”



Karen Campbell is a graduate of Glasgow University’s Creative Writing Masters. She’s published six novels, most recently This Is Where I Am, about a Somali refugee in Glasgow, and Rise, which looks at Scotland during Indyref1.  Karen received a Creative Scotland Bursary for research into her forthcoming novel The Infinite Line, which tells the story of the US Buffalo soldiers in Tuscany in WW2.

Marjorie Lotfi Gill is a founder of The Belonging Project, 75 workshops and readings reflecting on the flight, journey and assimilation of refugees. She was the first Poet in Residence at Jupiter Artland and Spring Fling/Wigtown Book Festival 2015. Marjorie’s poems have won competitions, been widely published (including in Gutter, Magma, Rattle and The Rialto) and been performed on BBC Radio 4.

Alison Miller, born and raised in Orkney, now lives there again. Her novel, Demo was shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award. She has had poetry and prose published in anthologies and stories broadcast on BBC Radio Four. In 2016 she contributed to the anthology ‘Between Islands’, linking Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.

Nat Raha is a poet and trans / queer activist, living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her poetry includes ‘[of sirens / body & faultlines]’ (Veer Books, 2015), countersonnets(Contraband Books, 2013), ‘mute exterior intimate’ (Oystercatcher Books, 2013) and Octet (Veer Books, 2010). She’s performed and published her work internationally. She is undertaking a PhD in Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Sussex.

Sarah Short is a Glasgow based artist, specializing in writing for performance. After graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015 Sarah has worked across a wide variety of contexts, insuring the delivery and creation of the highest quality arts experiences. To date Sarah has worked with; Scottish Prisons Arts Network, Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow Youth Arts, Vanishing Point. Sarah is an associate artist at Glasgow’s Platform Theatre and in 2016 was the recipient of the Dewar Arts Award.




Apex Scotland –

Apex Scotland’s work is about reducing re-offending, promoting desistance, tackling deprivation and making communities safer. In all that we do, we make best use of our resources to bring lasting value to individuals and society.


HMYOI Polmont –

Polmont is Scotland’s national holding facility for male young offenders aged between 16 – 21 years of age. Our partnership is with Fife College, working at HMP and YOI Polmont.


International Women’s Group Glasgow –

The International Women’s Group is based in Glasgow. The majority of members are refugees who are seeking support, friendships and are eager to integrate into the community. Through developing a new found skill, the members unlock their creative talent and feel a boost in confidence.


LGBT Youth Scotland –

LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland. The charity’s mission is to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people and the wider LGBT community so that they are embraced as full members of the Scottish family at home, school and in every community.


Move On –

Move On works in Scotland to unlock the potential of vulnerable young people and those affected by homelessness in order to improve their lives.


Orkney Library & Archive –

Library and Archive based in Orkney.


TAGS: Alison Miller BAME Cat Hepburn Creative Scotland HMYOI Polmont International Women’s Group Glasgow North Karen Campbell lgbt youth scotland lgbtq many voices marjorie lotfi gill move on Nat Raha Orkney Library & Archive Sarah Short writing workshop young writers