About Us

About Us

Spread the Word is London’s literature development agency, a charity and a National Portfolio client of Arts Council England. We are funded to help London’s writers make their mark on the page, the screen and in the world and build strategic partnerships to foster a literature ecology which reflects the cultural diversity of contemporary Britain.

Spread the Word has a national and international reputation for initiating change-making research and developing programmes for writers that have equity and social justice at their heart. In 2020 we launched Rethinking ‘Diversity’ in Publishing by Dr Anamik Saha and Dr Sandra van Lente, Goldsmiths, University of London, in partnership with the Bookseller and Words of Colour. Working with CRIPtic Arts, in 2022 we published Access to Literature, which presented the first national picture of the barriers deaf and disabled writers, creative producers and audiences experience in accessing the literature and publishing sectors.

Our London Writers Awards programme was cited as an example of ‘what works’ to improve equity, diversity and inclusion in the creative sector in the APPG for Creative Diversity’s Creative Majority report and our Early Career Bursaries for low income writers won the 2022 Achates Philanthropy Prize for Individual Giving. Spread the Word’s programmes also include: Wellcome x Spread the Word Writing Awards, CRIPtic Arts x Spread the Word Salon for deaf and disabled writers, Runaways and Deptford Literature Festival.

“It’s so heartwarming and encouraging to see the large number of people who have benefited from Spread the Word’s activities and who have since gone on to enjoy successful careers as writers. This stellar organisation is as important now as it was when Ruth Borthwick and I co-founded it in 1995, with the aim to make British literature more inclusive of all voices.”

– Bernardine Evaristo MBE FRSL FRSA, Author, Booker Prize-winner 2019, Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University and Spread the Word co-founder.

The Team

Ruth Harrison


Ruth Harrison joined Spread the Word in 2015. Her working life has been in the field of the arts and particularly in literature. She has been Director of Apples and Snakes, a literature development officer and programme manager at The Reading Agency. She is passionate about not only widening people’s engagement with writers and writing but also in developing writing talent. Widening participation and engagement alongside developing and building awareness of new voices has been core to her work.

At Spread the Word, Ruth is responsible for leading the company artistically and strategically and working with our highly skilled and dedicated team to make a difference to and for writers and their audiences in London.

Contact Ruth at [email protected]

Bobby Nayyar

Programme Manager (Box Office, Prizes and London Writers Awards)

Bobby Nayyar is a programme manager, publisher and writer. He started his career in publishing at Faber and Faber, Little, Brown Book Group and founded his own imprint, Limehouse Books. He has also managed Equality in Publishing and Wasafiri Magazine’s digital presence. At Spread the Word he works on the London Writers Awards, Life Writing Prize and regular programme of workshops and events. He has written two novels and a collection of poetry.

Contact Bobby at [email protected]


Tom MacAndrew

Programme Manager (Runaways London & Deptford Literature Festival)

Tom is a freelance producer specialising in poetry and spoken word projects. Tom has delivered work for poetry organisations including Forward Arts Foundation, Poet in the City, Poetry Translation Centre, Apples & Snakes, Penned in the Margins and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. He is developing and delivering work with poets: Francesca Beard, Anthony Anaxagorou, Eleanor Penny, Ella Frears, Joshua Idehan, John Hegley and Joelle Taylor. His is the producer for Out-Spoken/Out-Spoken Press, Bedtime Stories for the End of the World and Deptford Literature Festival.

Contact Tom at [email protected]

Photo of Tom by Aidan Hornsby

Okala Elesia

Communications and Impact Manager

Okala Elesia moved to Spread the Word from Arvon in the summer of 2024. A writer and musician, he has short stories in Extra Teeth Magazine, Gutter Mag, the Mechanics’ Insititute Review and many more.

He also facilitates creative writing workshops that explore radical, forgotten futures.

Contact Okala: [email protected]

Steve Willcox

Book-keeper / Finance Officer

Steve is an experienced voluntary sector finance specialist with management accounting and book-keeping skills. He has worked as a Finance Officer for community organisations in need of part-time skilled finance support for more than fifteen years.

Contact Steve at [email protected]

Our Board

Simon Richardson


Simon Richardson is an arts journalist and radio producer with a specialism in books. He makes radio and podcasts at the BBC and is passionate about promoting the work of queer authors, many of whom he’s commissioned to write for Radios 3 and 4. He was a Trustee of New Writing South for eight years, helping to found the Coast is Queer Festival of LGBTQ+ literature. In 2019 he was named a Bookseller ‘Rising Star’.

Aimée Felone


Aimée Felone is managing director of KNIGHTS OF, a multi award-winning inclusive publisher focused on bringing underrepresented voices to the forefront of commercial children’s publishing. With a team led by women of colour, and an unwavering focus on their intended readership for each book, Knights Of works to engage with gatekeepers across the industry, including booksellers, teachers and librarians, and supports non-traditional community spaces with events, outreach, marketing and partnerships.

Della Hill


Della specialises in supporting the development and implementation of meaningful change to ensure the focus on equality, diversity and inclusion is deeply embedded within organisations and businesses. She has managed and delivered large-scale initiatives to address structural inequalities within the Arts, Creative Industries and Higher Education sectors. She began her career in the sector as a Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries Fellow and was, until recently, Creative Lead at Literature Wales. She is now the Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Chwarae Teg, Wales’ leading gender equality charity, and a Consultant and Speaker at people make it work. 

Gita Ralleigh


Gita Ralleigh is a poet, writer and NHS doctor born to Indian immigrant parents in London. She has been published by Wasafiri, Bellevue Literary Review, Magma Poetry,Under The Radar and The Rialto among others. She teaches creative writing to science undergraduates at Imperial College and has an MA in Creative Writing and an MSc in Medical Humanities. Her debut poetry collection A Terrible Thing was published by Bad Betty Press in 2020 and her pamphlet Siren is forthcoming in 2022 from Broken Sleep Books. She is a member of the Kinara poetry collective.  

Sam Dodd


Sam has been a literature sector arts administrator for over a decade. Currently Operations Manager at the Poetry Translation Centre; previously at English PEN, Free Word, First Story, The Poetry Society, and Prison Reading Groups. She is also a Writing Mentor at Arkbound specialising in working-class, queer and female voices; a landworker at Spitalfields City Farm; and she co-founded then project managed intergenerational community engagement life writing project CityLife Stories from 2014 to 2024. Her areas of work and interest are writer development, community engagement, underrepresented and radical community histories, public libraries, city farms, and spatial justice. She has a BA in Creative Writing and MSc in Library Science. www.samdodd.co.uk

Joe Sedgwick


Joe Sedgwick is the Head of Writing Services at The Literary Consultancy. Joe has worked at TLC since 2015, and after starting as a paid intern, now manages TLC’s core editorial and operational services, looking after its team of readers and mentors and overseeing all in-house processes. He has an MA in Publishing from Kingston University and has also undertaken internships at Palgrave MacMillan and Bloomsbury. He has been a reader for Spread the Word’s London Short Story Prize & Life Writing Prize, and has spoken at Kingston University, The Asian Writer Festival, & New Writing North’s Newcastle Writing Conference. 

Hayley Steed


Hayley Steed is a Senior Literary Agent at Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency, where she works with authors of fiction and non-fiction including Clare Pooley, Yomi Adegoke, Henry Fry and Leah Hazard. She joined the MM Agency in 2016 and was named a Rising Star in The Bookseller in 2019. In 2022, she became a Trailblazer Award Winner for her innovation, creativity and passion in publishing. 

Sherifa Ibitola


Sherifa Ibitola is a Visually Impaired freelance consultant, disability advocate and activist dedicated to access, inclusion and diversity, kicking down barriers and creating change in the arts and digital media industry.  

April Yee


April Yee’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have won or been listed for The Best American Essays, Ivan Juritz Prize, Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize, Manchester Poetry Prize, and Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. A Harvard alumna and former journalist, she reported in more than a dozen countries before moving to London, where she has served as a Refugee Journalism Project mentor and The Georgia Review’s editor-in-residence. Her work has been supported by the National Book Critics Circle, Ledbury Poetry Critics, the Southbank Centre, and the University of East Anglia, where she is a Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Scholar. She tweets at @aprilyee.