Winners of Voices 2024 writing competition for children in care revealed at awards hosted by Peter Capaldi

Peter with Sheru

20 Feb 24

On Saturday 17 February, we were proud to announce the winners of Voices 2024, our national writing competition for children in care and young care leavers, at a ceremony hosted in London by actor Peter Capaldi alongside former Voices competition winner, Claire Wilden.

Now in its eighth year, the Voices competition, sponsored by UK management consultancy Cadence Innova, is 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. With poems that were described as “breathtaking” by the judges including authors Patrice Lawrence and Emma Norry, the young finalists showed their enormous potential and talent.

Peter Capaldi, who has hosted the competition since 2017, said: “I’ve supported the Voices competition for a number of years and am always blown away by the talent of the children and young people taking part. It’s an honour to read their words and the competition is so important in helping us all to better understand their lives and experiences.”

The theme of this year’s competition 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:

Winner of the Primary category: ‘Different?’ by Mali, age 8

Judges Abi Elphinstone and Deborah Maclaren said: “This uplifting poem, full of resilience and spirit, has brilliant rhymes and beautiful metaphors. It shows how all our experiences in the ‘tapestry of life’ may shape us but not define us. We can choose what we take away.”

Winner of the Lower Secondary category: ‘Caught in the system’ by Georgia, age 13

Judges Emma Norry and Callen Martin said: “This rap song immediately caught our attention. We loved everything about it, the rhythm and rhyme, as well the title, it wasn’t just a response to the prompt. It celebrates the resilience and determination of all care leavers who ‘rise above the hardship and trials’ to find their ‘brilliance’!”

Upper Secondary winner Evan with Carol Gita Peter and Brigid
Upper Secondary winner Evan with Dr Carol Homden CBE, Chief Executive of Coram, Gita Singham-Willis, Founding Partner of event sponsors Cadence Innova, event host Peter Capaldi and Managing Director of Coram Voice, Brigid Robinson MBE.

Winner of the Upper Secondary category: ‘What makes me different’ by Evan, age 17

Judges Patrice Lawrence and Jordan Morgan said: “The author captures the challenges of coming out and not growing up in an environment of openness. 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.”

Winner of the Care Leaver category: ‘What makes me different, as told by a 21st Century Bard’ by Ira

Judges Chris Wild and Rebekah Pierre said: “The writer has cleverly responded not only to the theme within the content of their piece, but also through the tone, character and style of the prose. It encapsulates the essence of difference, and celebrates diversity in various forms. It was a pleasure to read this theatrical entry.”

Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice, said: “It has been a joy to read the competition entries and see how children and young people have taken this theme and responded with an enormous diversity of poems, stories and songs. I am amazed by their 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: “Supporting Coram Voice and their crucial work with children and young people in care, is something we are immensely proud of. 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.