Graphic Novel Targets Sectarianism

28 January 2015, 12:18 | Updated: 28 January 2015, 12:21

A graphic novel has been launched to help educate young people about sectarianism.

Walk The Walk, written by Gowan Calder and illustrated by Jill Calder, is based on real-life experiences and follows two friends, Rab and Robbie, as they struggle with the divisions in their neighbourhood.

The book has been developed by the Scottish Book Trust and is one of 44 projects funded by the Scottish Government in a £9 million drive to tackle the problem.

It has been shaped by the stories of people who attend literacy support groups and their support workers, many of whom have had first-hand experience of sectarianism.

A total of 3,000 free copies will be distributed to literacy support groups in 180 locations across Scotland.

Marc Lambert, director of the Scottish Book Trust, said: "Recent research shows that 587 charges with a religious aggravation were reported in Scotland in 2013-14, emphasising the need for innovative solutions to tackle the blight of sectarianism.

"Walk The Walk uses the power of language and drama to engage young people and help them to understand the problem.

"With strong characters, realistic situations, a hard-hitting storyline and language that they can relate to, participants are able to take a walk in the shoes of those affected by sectarian behaviour and attitudes, and to understand the irreparable damage those words and actions, which many have unquestioningly inherited from their parents, can cause to communities and individuals.''

Community safety minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "We believe the solution to ending the scourge of sectarianism in society lies in and with our communities, that is why we have ensured communities are at the heart of work to tackle it and to improve our knowledge and understanding of sectarianism in Scotland.

"I am delighted to be able to support Scottish Book Trust who have developed both the Walk The Walk novel and support materials for literacy tutors, as this package is an excellent resource that will not only help bring the consequences of sectarianism to life, and to explain them to a wider audience, but will also improve literacy for those learners who use it.''