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"Talented and resilient": Children in care writing competition winners announced

The winners of a national writing competition for children in care and young care leavers have been announced following a ceremony in London hosted by Peter Capaldi.

20/02/24

"Talented and resilient": Children in care writing competition winners announced

Now in its eighth year, the Voices competition was hailed as a positive and celebratory platform for young people in – or leaving – care to express their feelings creatively and help build understanding around what it means to be care-experienced.

Judges described the poems as “breathtaking” while Capaldi, who played Doctor Who and Malcolm Tucker in ‘The Thick of It’, said he was “blown away” by the talent of the young people taking part.

“It’s an honour to read [these young people’s] words and the competition is so important in helping us all to better understand their lives and experiences,” said Capaldi, who has hosted the competition since 2017.

This year’s theme was ‘What Makes Me Different’, and 25 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 2024 winners are:

‘Different?’ by Mali, age 8, described as an “uplifting poem, full of resilience and spirit” won in the Primary category; while ‘Caught in the system’ a rap song by Georgia, age 13, celebrated the determination of all care leavers who rise above the hardship and to ‘find their brilliance’, winning in the Lower Secondary category.

‘What makes me different’ by 17-year-old Evan, about the challenges of coming out and not growing up in an environment of openness, won in the Upper Secondary category.

Judges Patrice Lawrence and Jordan Morgan said: “They describe the awful lack of control of being outed when the closet door is flung open and the sense of exposures and ultimate rejection that it created for them. While highlighting the sense of shame that young people are made to feel about gender and sexuality and the authentic language, beautiful imagery and rhyming couplets also offered a sense of hope.”

Ira, winner of the Care Leaver category with her poem ‘What makes me different, as told by a 21st Century Bard’ was praised for her unique response to the theme through the tone, character and style of the prose by judges Chris Wild and Rebekah Pierre.

Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice, praised the “enormous diversity” of poems, stories and songs contributed to the competition.

“I am amazed by the [young people’s] talent, creativity and resilience. A huge and very well deserved thank you to all the children and young people who have shared their voices with us and helped other young care experienced people to feel seen and heard. We are so proud of all of you, and hope so many others will be inspired by their stories.”

Gita Singham-Willis, Founding Partner at Cadence Innova, said they were proud to sponsor the awards.

“The Voices Awards is an inspiring competition that champions children’s creativity and enables them to express themselves – a purpose very close to our heart at Cadence Innova as we continue our mission to bring on positive change for individuals and society as a whole.”

Find out more and read the anthology of the winners and commended entries: https://coramvoice.org.uk/get-involved/voices-creative-writing-competition/

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