Young people are being encouraged to enter a national writing competition run by Coram Voice.

The theme of this year’s competition is ‘New Beginnings’ and Coram Voice is asking children and young people from across the UK to draw inspiration from a change in their lives or opportunities they’ve experienced to try something new.

The competition is grouped in three age categories: primary school, secondary school and care leavers, with a special additional award for migrant children in care or care leavers.

Entries, which can be submitted online at coramvoice.org.uk/voices-2017 until 21 February, can be in any written style including poems, short stories or newspaper articles, with a 500 word limit.

The entries for Voices 2017 will be judged by a panel of experts including:

  • Alex Wheatle, winner of the 2016 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
  • Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor for Channel 4 News
  • Jenny Molloy, author of ‘Hackney Child’
  • Paolo Hewitt, music journalist, writer and author of ‘The Looked After Kid’
  • Nikesh Shukla, writer and editor of ‘The Good Immigrant’
  • Keren David, author of young adult fiction including ‘Salvage’
  • Luke Stevenson, Children’s Social Care Journalist for Community Care

One of the judges, Jenny Molloy, who grew up in care said,“My advice to those to enter is not to think too much, just write what you feel. This is your personal space and a chance to share your inner thoughts. I also believe that every social worker should get behind the competition and share with all the young people they work with. It’s vital that they are given the opportunity to take part in something so positive and their stories need to be heard.”

Steven, winner of the Secondary School category for Voices 2016 said: “I didn’t think I’d win so I was really happy when they said I had. I’ve since had the opportunity to read my story to my year group and at other events.

“I’d say to this year’s entrants – think back to your past, and put in what you can remember. Even if you think you can’t win – as I did – you never know, just try your best.”

Winners will be announced by the judges at an awards ceremony in London on 10 April.

For more information about Voices 2017, how to enter and prizes, please visit the Coram Voice website.

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Nisha Kotecha is the Founder of Good News Shared. Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha is on a mission to highlight how amazing charities are.

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