Hi, I’m Sam Easterbrook and I’ve been the editor of theSprout.co.uk since October 2013, before which I was the sub-editor for many years and, way back in the mists of time, I was part of the youth editorial group that continues to steer the site to this day.
Sadly, despite being involved for most of the lifetime of theSprout, I just missed the meeting where the they named the thing; apparently it was coined with the idea in mind that the site was where young people’s ideas sprouted from, the soil bag from which careers in writing grew and was in no way a comedy name… We’ve since started using Brussels sprouts in most of our promotional material.
TheSprout.co.uk’s first shoots were seen in 2007 but didn’t start flowering till the official launch in Clwb Ifor Bach in November 2008 – we think we’re the first people to get the Lord Mayor on stage at the legendary Cardiff venue – and it also formed the model for similar sites across Wales. We were the pilot project from ProMo-Cymru for the revamped CLIConline, the national news, information and advice website for young people in Wales. There are now 21 other Sprouty sites (or members of the CLIC network, as I should probably call them) in all the other counties of Wales, including Wicid.tv in RCT, NPT Shake in Neath Port Talbot and Swoosh in the Vale of Glamorgan. TheSprout.co.uk continues to be a pioneer and the most popular site in CLIC Network.
The original premise of the site was a news and information provision for 11-25s in Cardiff with articles written by young people or organisations that work with young people. That’s since evolved into theSprout becoming a hub of creative writing, protest movements and organisations directly engaging with young people.
Some highlights include Snoo’s review of Cardiff Comic Expo done in the style of a graphic novel, Marshmallo’s exploration of gender roles in Sweden, teasisprettyawesome’s takedown of Piranha 3DD, AddictedToDrPepper’s diary of how they transitioned from female to male, dirty’s harrowing but hilarious experience of putting on their first gig, Tom_Bevan’s excellent poetry, neilramsden’s quality film reviews, and Richard Padley’s visceral parody of Richard Littlejohn, which was originally published on theSprout.
All of these have featured in theSprout Awards, our annual celebration of all the good stuff on the site, and the thing I’m most proud of being involved with. These events, although started by me back in 2010, have since been led by young people, who come together and organise the whole thing from the venue to the interval acts. They’re always a rollicking good time and I think last year’s in an empty shop in St. Mary’s Street with Sprouters hosting the awards, young stand-ups from Cardiff Libraries Laughing Matters workshops and an autistic covers band providing the entertainment – plus a mountain of half-price Pizza Hut – is the highlight of my time with theSprout.
The site now has an anonymous agony aunt, (the beautiful Aunty Sprout, who’s helped by Meic – the free national advocacy and advice helpline for 0-25s in Wales), an online book club in conjunction with Cardiff Libraries (the Reading Power Book Club) and a strong social media presence (follow us on Twitter yo, @FeedTheSprout). Information still forms the backbone of the site though (all articles will have at least one link to the info section, be it on health, bullying, volunteering or, say, badminton) and we’re very proud to be part of the Families First team in Cardiff.
We’ve built up great relationships with venues, promoters and artists in Cardiff and we regularly have reviews and previews peppering the site during an average week and we’re proud to offer opportunities to keen young writers; all that we ask is that you come along to one of our editorial group meetings (always the last Thursday of the month in Central Library, usually in Meeting Room 2) and submit something before we send you on assignment.
Anybody can write for theSprout (though preference will be given to 11-25s and those at the young end of that scale), all you have to do is go to theSprout.co.uk and click on the little pink button in the top left-hand corner to register. If you have any questions or want more info then drop me an email – Sam@TheSprout.co.uk and let’s see where the good ship Sprout takes us in the next five years!
Banner illustration by Dean Lewis