Jen McDerra

Jen is currently based in Bath writing up her Leverhulme Trust funded doctoral research reuniting C20th women in books and broadcasting with their achievements.

The guiding principle for her work is the drive to acknowledge contributions to society by people whose voices have not been recognised.

You’ll find her at the intersection of narrative, migration, and self-discovery.

Jen is developing the AHRC funded 'Quest' initiative to connect those experiencing low cultural capital with civic spaces and their community through libraries.

Previously Jen was CEO at the Charles Causley Trust which exists to further the legacy of the poet through opportunities for those engaged with Cornish heritage and the community. Prior to this Jen held a number of roles within the literature sector, including Culture Programme Officer for Commonwealth Writers, Development Manager for The Reader Organisation, and Community Relations Officer at Barefoot Books.

How the Fellowship impacted me

The Clore Fellowship has given me clarity and restored my sense of humour which was waning when they found me.

The opportunity to explore widely has cemented a core of confidence in my own strengths which I draw on daily. This is scaffolded by my cohort and the understanding of other methods and approaches I have gained through coaching, mentoring and the year-long programme.

Projects that never felt like they'd get off the page feel deliverable, and it now feels possible to make a significant contribution in the cultural sector while living a balanced life of my own.

How I am using my skills for change

After the Fellowship I was one of six Fellows to be awarded £10,000 by the AHRC to research 'Quest': a project to map a pathway between homelessness, libraries, and self-discovery. I'm working with the People's Palace Projects team lead by Prof. Paul Heritage at QMUL to bring this project from the research phase and into fruition following a pilot with Norfolk Libraries in 2019.