On Saturday 21 May, the national creative writing competition for children in care and young care leavers was hosted by Scottish actor, Peter Capaldi and a former winner, Sophia Alexandra Hall.
The competition provides a positive platform for care-experienced young people to express their creative talents and to build understanding around their experiences.
After two years of holding the Voices awards ceremony online due to Covid restrictions, the event was held in person once again, and featured members of this year’s judging panel including authors Patrice Lawrence and Emma Norry, alongside the young finalists reading their winning pieces.
Peter Capaldi, who has hosted the competition since 2017, said:
“I’ve supported the Voices competition for a number of years and am always blown away by the talent of the children and young people taking part. It’s an honour to read their words and the competition is so important in helping us all to better understand their lives and experiences.”
The theme of this year’s competition was ‘This is Me’, and 23 children and young people were shortlisted across four age categories: primary (age 4-10), lower secondary (age 11-14), upper secondary (age 15-17) and care leavers (age 18-25).
The Voices 2022 winners are:
Winner of the Primary category: ‘This is Me’ by Alex, age 10
Judges Patrice Lawrence and Jarvis said:
“We loved the original take on the brief. Some unusual language and great touches of humour. It jumps off the page and you can feel the author through their words. You get the feeling the author loves playing with words and phrases, and is really having fun writing, and this makes it fun to read.”
Winner of the Lower Secondary category: ‘This is Me’ by Tilesha, age 14
Judges Jenny Molloy and Chris Wild said:
“We were captivated by this poem as it took us somewhere else emotively. We could feel, hear and see the writer. Great use of words, visceral from the soul. It’s punchy, short and sweet but more than anything, it really makes you think. Incredible piece of creative work.”
Winner of the Upper Secondary category: ‘My Journey’ by Sebur, age 15
Judges Mr Gee and Callen Martin said:
“We loved this poem! It has a clever use of repetition that really hammers home the stark imagery of surviving such a dangerous voyage. The opening line “Coming here was not part of the plan” sets the reader on a truly harrowing journey, where every second of life is to be cherished.”
Winner of the Care Leaver category: ‘This is Me’ by A.P., age 18
Judges Emma Norry and Stacey Halls said:
“We were blown away by the writer’s natural talent, they presented a very unique and passionate piece about their experience. Their poem is raw and unfiltered and really expresses their sense of self. It stood out with energy and passion. We loved how it didn’t try to encapsulate an entire lifetime, much more of a moment, reflecting back which grounded us in a time and place very effectively.”
Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice, said:
“It has been a joy to read the competition entries and see how children and young people have interpreted the theme and responded creatively in their writing. A huge thank you and well done to all the children and young people who took the time to enter the competition and share their voices with us. We are so proud of all of you, and hope so many others will be inspired by their stories.”
Championing the rights of children in care and care leavers is at the core of the organisation’s aims. In the UK there are over 80,000 children and young people reliant on the state for their care and wellbeing. The charity prides itself in making sure children know their rights and helps them navigate the system, challenge decisions and make sure their rights and wellbeing are protected.
Congratulations to the winners!