Voices 2024 FAQs, Ts and Cs

Voices 2024 FAQs

Voices 2024 will be open for entries on 19th Oct 2023. Please read our frequently asked questions below, and if you still have questions please email voices@coramvoice.org.uk

Am I Eligible to enter Voices 2023?
Voices 2024 is open to young people currently in care and care leavers who will be aged between 4 and 25 years old on 19th October 2023, 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.

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.

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! The only real limits are that it must be your own work, about our theme “What makes me different?”, 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.

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.

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.

What are the prizes?
Prizes will be awarded to 24 shortlisted candidates. The shortlisted candidates will receive a book voucher. Third place will receive a £25 ‘Love to Shop’ voucher . Second place will receive a £50 ‘Love to Shop’ voucher. The winners will receive £100 ‘Love to Shop’ voucher. Further prizes and awards may be announced during the competition.

How is it judged?
Each piece of writing will be judged on the following criteria:

Theme – How well does it match the theme of ‘What makes me different’?
Voice – How strong, original and unique is the voice?
Emotive – How well does it engage the readers’ emotions?

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 take remember this when judging your piece of writing.

When is the entry deadline?
The deadline is midnight on Sun 17th December 2023.

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, for example, 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.

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 work with young people.

When is the final awards ceremony and can I come along?
There will be an awards ceremony in February 2024 (date TBC) in central London. The top 24 shortlisted candidates will all receive invitations for themselves and two guests – so please keep an eye out for announcements – 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 ceremony.

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 below.

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!

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.

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.

What if I’m not a writer?

If writing isn’t your thing, we understand that. We’re also looking for individuals to submit an artistic creation, and we will be choosing one as the front cover for the Voices 2024 official publication. The artist of the chosen piece will be invited to our Awards Ceremony in February 2024, along with a plus one, and given a £50 Love to Shop voucher. Entry must still be in line with our theme ‘What makes me different?’ and is submitted using the main entry form and attaching the piece using the attachment option. There will be no age category for artistic submissions, and the young person must be aged between 4-25 years. Any form of artwork is welcome (including digital and photography). Please see our terms and conditions below for specific requirements. We welcome submissions from young people with varying and complex needs. Your piece may also be featured on our social media and promotional platforms.

Voices National Writing Competition
Voices 2024 is Coram Voice’s eighth 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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Voices 2024 Terms and Conditions

Please read the full Terms and Conditions for Voices 2024 below. If you have any questions, please check the FAQs above or contact us at voices@coramvoice.org.uk

  1. This competition is organised by Coram Voice (Registered Charity No: 1046207), part of the group of charities of The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, known today – and hereafter referred to –  as ‘Coram’ (Registered Charity No: 312278)
  2. Entry to this competition is open to persons who will be aged between 4 and 25 years old on 19th October 2023, who are looked after children or care leavers 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. Proof of age, identity and eligibility may be requested.
  3. Entry will be in four age categories:
    Primary School (4 – 10) –aged 4 to 10 on 19th October 2023
    Lower Secondary School  (11 – 14) –aged 11 to 14 on 19th October 2023,
    Upper Secondary School  (15 – 17) –aged 15 to 17 on 19th October 2023
    Care Leavers aged 18 to 25 on 19th October 2023. If you are a care leaver, still receiving support from Children’s Social Services, and over 25 years old then you may still be eligible, please get in touch to check by emailing voices@coramvoice.org.uk
  4. Entrants must write an original creative piece of writing (no more than 500 words in length) on the theme ‘What makes me different?’.  Entry is via the ‘how to enter’ form, which will be removed when the competition closes. Entrants will be asked to provide their name, gender,  their local authority, their number and their age. Entries must be submitted via the text area of the form or via an attached Word document, PDF file or photograph.  All entries must be submitted in English and legible. If the entry is longer than 500 words only the first 500 words of the entry will be read.
  5. For entrants under the age of 18, an adult will be required to approve the entry and agree to these Terms and Conditions (including Coram Voice’s use of the entry submitted) on behalf of the entrant. Submission of an entry will be treated as a confirmation of adult and child consent. The adult may be the child’s parent, foster carer, guardian, social worker or teacher. The adult must provide their own contact details (not the child’s) and the area in which the child lives.
  6. Adults who do not have parental responsibility may be contacted (for example if the entry is shortlisted) to confirm permission is granted by a person who has parental responsibility (usually this will be a parent or social worker).
  7. The personal data provided will be used for the purposes of administering the competition and in accordance with Coram’s Data Protection PolicyCoram Voice will use the contact details provided by the entrant or adult to provide electronic certificates of achievement, to confirm eligibility of entrants who are shortlisted and to provide updates on the competition.
  8. Personal information will be stored until 17th Feb 2025. After this date, personal information will be deleted and submissions will be kept anonymously (with the age of the young person at the time of submission) for as long as there is a business need. The submissions will be stored electronically by Coram Voice.
  9. Limited information, which cannot be used to identify any individual (age, gender, region, entry text and title), may be used/shared by Coram Voice for purposes of increasing awareness and funds for Coram Voice and for publicising its services and the issues that young people are facing. This information can be used for fundraising, policy, marketing and public relations literature (e.g. newsletters sent to supporters, annual review, exhibitions in museums, Coram Voice website, social media, including Facebook and Twitter) as well as newspapers and magazines and for broadcast
  10. Entry opens on 19th October 2023 at 09:00; entry closes on 17th December 2023 at midnight. Submissions received outside of this timeframe will not be considered.
  11. Entrants can only enter individually. One entry per person is permitted. Additional entries will not be considered.
  12. Entries must be an original piece of writing. This can be a poem, short story, article, rap, song, description, diary entry or any other creative piece of writing. As the submissions may be published, it is important that these do not include any names of the entrant or other living persons.  However, submissions may feature well-known public figures (for example, Adele, Brad Pitt, Theresa May). If you are unclear about whether your submission contradicts these terms and conditions, please email voices@coramvoice.org.uk
  13. Please inform us in your entry if there are any other factors we should consider when judging your submission – for example, if English is a second language, or if you have a learning difficulty such as dyslexia. Judges will take this into account when marking and shortlisting submissions.
  14. Entries cannot be returned, so please remember to keep a copy. We are unable to provide feedback on individual entries other than those shortlisted.
  15. All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. Coram Voice accepts no responsibility if entrants ignore these Terms and Conditions. Entrants agree to indemnify Coram Voice against any claim by any third party from any breach of these Terms and Conditions.
  16. Entries must not contain defamatory, offensive, or any other unsuitable material. Swear words are permissible considering, the context of the entire entry. The decision on the admissibility of swear words will be made by judges and the judges’ decision is final. Entries must be suitable to be published or used online by Coram Voice. Any material that is not suitable to be publicised and enjoyed by audiences of all ages may have the relevant words/passages ‘asterisked-out’ for publication.
  17. If any submission raises child safeguarding concerns or vulnerable adult safeguarding concerns, these will be reviewed in line with Coram’s Safeguarding Policy.
  18. Entrants retain the copyright in their entries but grant to Coram Voice a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free licence to publish, broadcast (across all media) and post the entry online and on any other platforms yet to be envisaged
  19. The entrant agrees that Coram Voice may at its sole discretion adapt, abridge or translate the entry for the purposes listed above.
  20. Entries will be judged on the following criteria:Theme – how well does it match the theme of ‘what makes me different’?Voice – how strong, original and unique is the style and voice?Emotion   – how well does it engage the readers’ emotions?
  21. The first round will be read and shortlisted by staff and supporters of Coram Voice and Coram. Each shortlister will receive a batch of anonymised (identified by number references and age category only) submissions to read and score using the criteria above. Each shortlister will be emailed several submissions along with details of the criteria and how to score the submissions. Each submission will be judged by three shortlisters. The highest scoring submissions from each age category will be put through to the next round.
  22. If there are more than 24 entries achieving top scores there will be a second round of shortlisting. The shortlisters will read and score these anonymised stories using the same criteria above to produce a shortlist of the top six shortlisted entries per age category – 24 submissions altogether. These will be put through to the final round.
  23. The top 24 entries will be read and judged by a guest panel, including professional authors, presenters and poets, creative professionals who have experience in the care system, and young people who have previously been shortlisted and previous Voices winners. The judges will be finalised nearer the date but will not be Coram Voice or Coram staff and will have a literary and /or care background. There will be one third place, one second place and one winner for each age category.
  24. The top 24 shortlisted entrants (six in each age category) will be invited, along with two guests, to attend the awards ceremony on 17th Feb 2024. Full names of the finalists and overall winners will be announced during this ceremony, subject to parental consent. Unfortunately, Coram Voice is not able to meet any travel or accommodation costs associated with attending the awards ceremony.
  25. Finalists accept, subject to adult permission where necessary, that their name, and piece of writing may be shared with an audience and that the audience may share their opinions (which may be positive or negative) about their submission.
  26. Prizes will be awarded to the 24 shortlisted candidates. The shortlisted candidates will receive a book voucher. Third place will receive a £25 ‘Love to Shop’ voucher. Second place will receive a £50 ‘Love to Shop’ voucher. The winners will receive £100 ‘Love to Shop’ voucher. Further prizes and awards may be announced during the competition.
  27. The parents or legal guardians of the top 24 successful entrants will be contacted by a member of the project team by Jan/ Feb 2024, where further proof-of-age, identity and eligibility may be requested at this stage.
  28. The judges’ decision at each round of judging is final.
  29. Coram Voice retains the right to disqualify any submissions that breach these Terms and Conditions.
  30. Coram Voice reserves the right to amend these Terms and Conditions or cancel this competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  31. Coram Voice cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for any technical failure or malfunction or any other problem with any server, Internet access, IT system or otherwise which may result in any entry being lost or not properly recorded. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt.
  32. If submitting artistic forms of work for our cover image, the young person must be within the same age range and the same T&Cs will apply. One piece will be chosen, which most be in line with our theme, ‘What makes me different?’ It must be in the format of a high-resolution electronic image. The piece can be any form of artwork, including digital and photography, with no identifiable people in the picture. The artwork must be the young person’s own work (should not be copied from someone else’s images without their permission). Coram Voice reserves the right to share the piece of artwork online and at events, such as for promotional material or on our social media platforms.
  33. These Terms and Conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales.