Run by national children’s rights charity, Coram Voice, the competition was launched to celebrate the voices of looked after children and care leavers in its 40th anniversary year.
It included entries from primary school age children through to care leavers who are over 18.
The winning entries were praised for the emotional, lyrical content as well as for offering a rare and powerful insight into their hopes and fears.
Winner of the Primary School Age category – ‘If,’ by anon, 10, Essex
The judge, poet Dreadlockalien aka Richard Grant (Former poet laureate for Birmingham city) and author Lisa Cherry, said: “This poem uses a traditional poetic format of personification. It shows how valuable friendships are to us all. For all the social workers, foster carers, parents and siblings in the world, a good friend is always a great person to have in your life. Great metaphors and opportunities for us to reflect upon what our friendships mean to us.”
Winner of the Secondary School Age category – ‘My Heroes… My Happiness…’ by Steven, Year 8, Luton
The judges Eleanor Mills, Deputy Editor of the Sunday Times and Paolo Hewitt, journalist and author said: “Both of us felt his use of poetic language was nicely sustained throughout, and his joy of finding love beautifully expressed and very moving.”
Winner of the Care Leavers Age category – ‘Bruce’ by Annabel, 21, London
The judges Jenny Molloy, author of ‘Hackney Child’ and Luke Stevenson, Children’s Journalist at Community Care magazine said: “Bruce was a brilliantly written piece that took the theme in an imaginative direction. Through the way it was written, the author put across a real depth of feeling and emotion that made it stand out as the winner. It captured us from start to finish – in fact the content stayed with us all day – a magnificent piece”
Coram Voice is a national charity which helps looked-after children get their voices and wishes heard when decisions are being made about their care.
The competition paid tribute to Gwen James, Coram Voice’s inspirational late founder, and asked young people to write up about who makes them happy, or about what the important people in their life could do to make them happier.
Muna Adam, advocate from Coram Voice said: “I’m so pleased that these brilliant pieces of writing have vindicated what I, and all other professionals working with care-experienced young people, have always known; that children in care and care leavers are exceptionally talented, creative and resilient.
What I didn’t expect was the impact that just taking part in this competition could have – one head teacher told us that he felt being shortlisted had given one child the boost they needed to help them finish primary school!
I hope that Voices 2016 will help everyone to see the child rather than the statistics.”