Voices FAQs

Voices 2020 is now closed and entrants will be contacted by 1 March, if they have been shortlisted.

Read our frequently asked questions below. If you still have questions, please email voices@coramvoice.org.uk

1. Am I eligible to enter Voices 2020?

Voices 2020 is open to young people currently in care and care leavers who will be aged between 4 and 25 years old on 12 December 2019, and who are full-time residents of the UK (this includes the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man), as well as separated minors or former separated minors.

2. Am I a care leaver?

Sometimes it can be very complicated to know whether you are considered to be a ‘care leaver’. Click here to find out if you are a care leaver. By answering the questions you will be taken through the maze of the leaving care system and will hopefully learn more about how you can be supported.

3. What can I write?

It’s a creative writing competition so that means you can write pretty much anything. It could be a poem, a short story, a rap, a song, a piece about your feelings, a diary entry…  anything you like. The only real limits are that it must be your own work, it must be about ‘Dreams’ and it must be no more than 500 words – if you write more than this we’ll stop reading at 500.

If we find that an entry is copied from someone else, it will be disqualified. 

4. How do I enter?

Entries must be submitted via the entry form on our website. You must include your name, age and where you live on the form. You can type directly into the form or attach a word document, PDF, scan or a photo of your entry. We must able to read your writing.

5. Can I submit more than one entry?

No, unfortunately, you can only submit one entry. The first entry you submit will be the only entry judged.

6. What are the prizes?

Prizes will be awarded to 24 shortlisted candidates. The shortlisted candidates will receive a £10 book voucher. Third place in each category receives a £25 Love-to-Shop voucher. Second place in each category receive a £50 Love-to-Shop voucher. The winners of each category will receive a £100 Love-to-Shop voucher. Further prizes and awards may be announced during the competition.

7. How is it judged?

Each piece of writing will be judged on the following criteria:

Theme – How well does it match both the theme of ‘Dreams’?

Voice – How strong, original and unique is the voice?

Emotion – How well does it engage the readers’ emotions?

8. Can I submit my piece of writing in a different language?

Unfortunately, we can only accept entries written in English. If English is not your first language or if you have any learning difficulties that affect your English (for example, dyslexia), please let us know and we will remember this when judging your piece of writing.

9. When is the deadline?

The deadline is midnight on 12 February 2020.

10. Do I need adult consent?

If you are under 18, it is very important that you have adult consent – without this, we may not be able to shortlist you into the top 24. This could be a teacher, your carer or social worker. If there are any problems getting help and consent from an adult, please let us know and we will do our best to help.

11. Will you publish my writing?

We may publish your piece of writing to help raise awareness of the work Coram Voice does and the experiences of young people in care and care-leavers and the things that are important to them. We will do this anonymously, but we will try to let you know if we do. We won’t publish your piece of writing with your real name unless we have first checked with you and a trusted adult that this is ok. We may invite you to work with us in the future on similar competitions or other work with young people.

12. When is the final awards ceremony and can I come along?

There will be an awards ceremony in April 2020 in central London. The top 24 shortlisted candidates will all receive invitations for themselves and two guests – so please keep the date free if you can – we would really love to have you there.

To see what you can expect at the awards ceremony, take a look at last year’s Voices Awards Ceremony 2019 

13. What will you do with my personal information?

We will use your information to send you a certificate of achievement, to contact you if you are shortlisted and to keep you updated about the competition. We will only keep your personal details for a year. For more information, you can look at the Terms and Conditions 

14. Why can’t I put my name in my piece of writing?

We want to share your great stories with as many people as possible. If you put information that could identify you or someone else then we would need to check with everybody that they agree to us sharing their details. That would take a very long time – we would rather spend that time sharing your stories!

15. Can I get help or write it with my friend?

The work must be original, which means it must be your words and your voice. It’s fine to get help with spelling and grammar or to write in a group situation, but you cannot write your piece jointly with someone else.

16. What is the age limit for care leavers?

We know that the care journey doesn’t end at 25 for everyone. If you are aged 25 or under and your case with Children’s Social Services is open or closed you can submit entries. If you are over 25 years old and are still receiving support from Children’s Social Services then you may still be eligible – if you have an allocated Personal Adviser (PA) and/or your case is still open with Children’s Social Services then you can submit entries. If you are over 25 and don’t know whether your case is open or closed you can get help from your local advocacy service to find out. You can find contact details for your local advocacy service here.

17. Voices national writing competition

Voices 2020 is Coram Voice’s fifth annual Voices writing competition for children in care and young care leavers. The national competition was launched in 2016 to mark Coram Voice’s 40th anniversary and in honour of our founder, Gwen James, who died in 2015.

A platform for the voices of children in and around the care system, the competition promotes a positive image by showcasing young people’s creativity and improving understanding of their experiences.

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