The In the Bank Project saw Manchester Literature Festival and The Writing Squad work together again to develop a fantastic new project – a writing residency in a bank. Not just any bank, but a flagship branch of our sponsors HSBC. As I’m sure the work you’ve read conveyed, our experience there was quite singular, and the opportunity to engage with a place like the St Ann’s branch of the bank offered us ample subjects, ideas and characters to explore in our work.
I have never been part of a project that took over my thoughts quite so completely. I found myself waking in the middle of the night, desperate to discover what was in that safety deposit box. Thinking of questions midweek and frantically noting them down on the back of receipts so that I wouldn’t forget to ask them that coming Saturday. Yearning for more stories about the staff room, regular customers and bank robberies as the weekend drew closer. It was an insight into a world I’d never really thought an awful lot about before, and as usual, there was so much to find out.
It was the people that made this project special; their generosity and willingness to share all they were able to made it a joy to be a part of. The questions the writers asked made me think differently. And the enthusiasm of everyone who contributed gave the project energy and drive. I hope we offered them something in return – a chance to share the exciting and the monotonous parts of their jobs to ever-curious ears, perhaps. The opportunity to be interrogated by a bunch of people they’d never met before, who really, really wanted to know about how it felt to deliver bad news on a mortgage decision. Or maybe just the chance to get away from the front line for a while and reflect on what it is that makes their job interesting.
The brilliant work produced certainly illustrates our interest in those people, just as it reflects their attentiveness, honesty and openness. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed the process of writing it.
Children & Young People’s Programme Coordinator
Manchester Literature Festival