About Us

About Us

Spread the Word is London’s writer development agency, which means we are here to help London’s writers make their mark – on the page, the screen and in the world.

We do this by kick starting the careers of London’s best new writers, and energetically campaigning to ensure that publishing truly reflects the diversity of the city. We support the creative and professional development of writing talent, by engaging those already interested in literature and those who will be, and by advocating on behalf of both.


Spread the Word is committed, collaborative and adventurous.

Operating in one of the most diverse and creative cities in the world, our work is focused on:

• Writers having the time, space and money to produce quality work and live as a writer;
• Readers and audiences experiencing a greater range of writing produced by London’s writers;
• More diverse writers being published by publishing houses and other media.

We have a national and internationally recognised expertise and track record in the development and management of schemes for diverse writers: from the creation and management of The Complete Works (2008-10) a mentoring scheme for advanced Black and Asian poets, which provoked a cultural shift in the dynamics and diversity of the British poetry scene; to Encompass a professional development for writers from marginalised backgrounds; Flight (2008 and 2012) mentoring and professional development schemes for writers under 25 and our current Flight 1000 Associate scheme, funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, providing training and support for writers from diverse backgrounds to enter the publishing industry.

We have led the literature and publishing sectors in commissioning research into diversity that is both ground breaking and change making. Our Free Verse Report (2005) looked at why so few Black and Asian poets had been published in the UK in the previous ten years and led to the creation of The Complete Works. Our Writing the Future Report (2015) looked at Black and Asian authors and publishers in the UK market place and has provided the evidence base for a range of initiatives (for e.g.: Penguin Random House’s WriteNow programme) taking place across the publishing industry.

“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.”

– Bernadine 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 FRSA


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.

Ruth has previously been a trustee of Little Green Pig – a charity working to inspire children and young people to get creative with writing, sits on the steering committee for The Literary Platform’s Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and is part of the team developing EmpathyLab – a start-up using words and stories to build young people’s empathy skills.

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 ruth@spreadtheword.org.uk

Eva Lewin


Eva Lewin is Writer Development Manager at Spread the Word where she leads on the one-to-one support for writers, through feedback surgeries and professional development coaching.

Eva commissioned the Writing the Future research (published in 2015) into Black and Asian writers and publishers in the UK marketplace. She continues to work on the strategy to take forward the diversity agenda, including Spread the Word’s consultancy on WriteNow with Penguin Random House.

Her twenty years’ experience in the literature sector includes curating creative writing programmes, co-directing the Hackney literature festival, running writers’ residencies and a shop-floor library at Ford’s car factory in Dagenham. Eva is an RD1st accredited coach (ILM Level 7 equivalent).

Contact Eva at eva@spreadtheword.org.uk

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 tom@spreadtheword.org.uk

Photo of Tom by Aidan Hornsby

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 bobby@spreadtheword.org.uk


Laura Kenwright

Communications Manager

At Spread the Word, Laura works on Spread the Word’s communications, projects and administration on a temporary basis. She manages our social media accounts, creates our newsletters, manages our website, develops and delivers communications and marketing strategies, and more.

Laura joined Spread the Word in 2013, and has managed a variety of projects, including City of Stories, the London Short Story Prize, the Life Writing Prize and Flight 1000. She also produced the London Short Story Festival in 2015, and played a key role in the festival in 2014.

She has supported writers, organisations and artists get their work into the world, develop meaningful and effervescent projects and writing activity.

Laura has worked with a diverse range of audiences within the arts. After studying English Literature at Cardiff University, she gained an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

She has produced live art, comedy and theatre and storytelling shows in London and at the Edinburgh Festival. She has also worked for Arts Award and Artsmark, The National Literacy Trust, as a local authority arts officer, a social care worker working with young asylum seekers and as a youth worker. She is passionate about enabling access to high quality writing opportunities and nurturing writing and creative talent.

She has judged writing prizes including the UCL Publishers’ Prize and Warwick University young people’s Shakespeare writing competition, written forewords and edited poetry and short story anthologies. In her spare time she pursues her own fiction, script and poetry writing and loves comedy.

Laura works part-time for Spread the Word, three days a week – usually Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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Contact Laura at laura@spreadtheword.org.uk

Emily Ajgan

Programme Assistant

Emily has worked in the community arts and charity sectors for the last three years. Before joining Spread the Word, she co-founded and led a creative writing mentoring programme for young people from underserved communities in Oxfordshire.

She has a master’s degree in Creative Writing and is a fiction writer.

Contact Emily: emily@spreadtheword.org.uk

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 steve@spreadtheword.org.uk

Our Board

Rishi Dastidar


Rishi Dastidar is a copywriter, brand strategist and poet. Currently head of verbal identity at strategic branding agency BrandPie, he has worked for a wide variety of brands during his career, including O2, EY and EDF Energy. His poetry has been published by the Financial Times, BBC Local Radio, Tate Modern, the Southbank Centre, And Other Poems and Poems in Which, amongst many others. A fellow of The Complete Works II, the Arts Council England-funded development programme for Black and Asian poets in the UK, his debut collection Ticker-tape will be published by Nine Arches Press in March 2017.

Sandeep Mahal MBE


Sandeep is the Director of Nottingham City of Literature. She is also Literary Consultant at Slam Films. She works with Slam’s creative team on all literary acquisitions and serves as the company’s primary liaison with the publishing industry, and in that capacity identifies book-to-film/TV opportunities. Sandeep was until recently Director of The Space – a commissioning agency supporting greater digital access to the arts co-founded by Arts Council England and the BBC – and launched their major partnership initiatives, international prizes and Open commissioning schemes, developing artists from a range of backgrounds to engage with digital media and technology. A librarian by training, she worked in public libraries for ten years and was formerly Head of Partnerships at The Reading Agency. Here she led a powerful partnership consortium transforming the way UK publishers and the public library network collaborated, taking a leading role in re-imagining the library experience for a digital age. She was a judge for the Fiction Uncovered Prize in 2013, named The Bookseller’s Rising Star in 2012, awarded a Fellowship from the Clore Cultural Leadership Programme in 2013.

Katie Roden


Katie Roden is a publishing, marketing and content strategy consultant. She has a 24-year trade publishing background, including 11 years as Director of Consumer Education at Hachette UK and, as Publisher at Guardian Books, creating the Guardian Shorts ebook list and helping form the Guardian Faber imprint. In recent years she has worked on publishing ideas, marketing campaigns and communication strategies for some of the UK’s biggest publishers and author brands, from military fiction to secondary education. Katie is the co-founder of book design blog Fixabook and is a freelance consultant for the Seven League digital agency.

Aimée Felone


Aimée Felone is co-founder of newly launched Knights Of – a commercial children’s publisher whose main focus is hiring diversely and commissioning writers and illustrators from a diverse range of backgrounds. She has always been a supportive and engaged voice within the Industry and has worked tirelessly to promote inclusivity and diversity.

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 is a community facilitator, writing mentor, editor, and researcher; Co-Founder & Project Manager at CityLife Stories, an intergenerational community engagement life writing project which pairs young writers with urban elders to uncover unheard stories; and across the last decade has worked at multiple London-based literature charities including English PEN, Free Word, First Story, The Poetry Society, and Prison Reading Groups. Her areas of work and interest are writer development, underrepresented stories, public libraries, city farms, spatial justice, radical mapping, and radical community histories. 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.