Earlier this month, the charity Coram Voice launched its second annual creative writing competition Voices for children in care and young care leavers. The competition provides a platform for young people in care to express their creative talent and improve understanding of their experiences.
Winner of the Secondary School category in last year’s Voices competition Steven, 13, shares his winning entry, and the impact the competition has had on him.
I think that writing gives you a way to express yourself and also allows you to get away, to escape the issues you might be facing.
I was in care from a very young age and came to be with my foster carers 11 years ago. They were the inspiration for my article ‘My Heroes…My Happiness…’, which won in my category at the Voices competition last year.
I am also inspired by various authors, especially Anthony Horowitz and Lee Child who really immerse you into their world through their stories, and bring back things from the past as the story gets deeper.
I never thought I would win the competition, so I was really happy when they said I had – it was mind-blowing. Since then I’ve read my story to my year group in assembly, at a local awards ceremony for children in care, and at charity events.
I was also called back to my old primary school – where I’d had some negative experiences during my time there – to give some inspiration to the younger children, and show that even though you may have had bad experiences in the past, you can still pull through.
My story has had a very positive reaction – people always seem to find it moving and get quite emotional when they hear it!
If anyone is thinking about entering this year, I’d say give it a try. Think back to your past and write about what you can remember. Even if you think you can’t win – as I did – you never know so just try your best.
My Heroes…My Happiness…
I lay there like death lies over the graves of the living. Jumping into the darkness of the night, like light jumps into the darkness of the abyss.
My life being shadowed like the British clouds shadow the light, and all that is good for this world. Being drowned into the depths of the ocean like a fish gets drowned in the depths of the air.
My soul being burnt like the rain burns the fire to the deepest pits of hell. But still I am happy, and the two people who make this possible, Sean and Debra.
When all feels wrong in the world I think of them and all is correct again. In this world of war and torment I think of them how much I love them, and how they have helped me throughout my life.
They are my real parents and I love them with all of my heart. I have been with them for 11 years now and when I think of them I think of my heroes…
Before I met these amazing people I was on a rollercoaster, but now I am on a rollercoaster that now can only go up. I felt like hell was on my heart, but then I was opened up to love again.
I felt suddenly like there was a huge weight on my two shoulders, and then when I met these two people the weight was suddenly lifted. The only two people who were solely responsible for this…my heroes.
I had felt a new emotion that I had never felt before. I was greeted by happiness. I was greeted by another feeling that I had never felt before when I met them… love. My eyes filled with tears of joy as I struggled to keep in the happiness.
Warmness flooding through my veins. A sigh of relief as I felt as though I had found my safe haven…
Struggling to control my emotions as strangers became my friends and friends became my family. Could I have been there? Was I in heaven? Every day I asked myself these exact same questions.
But then I have to come back to reality and realise that I was still in this same world of war and torment. But with these people helping me through my poisonous life I can do it, and I will eventually become stronger and no longer crying my way to sleep every night…
My soul had been torn apart but now it has been sewn back together… by my heroes… The past 11 years of my life have been the best I have ever experienced.
Our family is like the story of Romeo and Juliet, except in our family the love is returned because there is always love, and sometimes it is consistent. That is why I love my family and they love me in my family.
They are my heroes. They are my happiness.
The Voices competition has three categories: Primary School, Secondary School and Care Leavers, with a special additional award for migrant children in care or care leavers, and the theme is ‘New Beginnings’ with a 500 word limit. The deadline for entries is 21 February 2017.
For more information and to enter, please visit www.coramvoice.org.uk/voices-2017