My experience of the Voices creative writing competition

The hosts of Voices 2024 - Claire Wilden with Peter Capaldi
Claire Wilden with Voices 2024 co-host Peter Capaldi

Being Care Experienced will be one of the most challenging things you will ever go through. But it could also be one of the most rewarding. The thoughts that will run through your head, the feelings that will overwhelm you…they are all brilliant writing inspirations.

The Voices creative writing competition gives care-experienced children and young people the opportunity to have their voices heard and to express their feelings in creative ways.

I was like many of you, a nervous young person who has just gone into care and needed an outlet. I entered this competition SEVERAL times, but nothing came out of it.

Until 2020.

In 2020, I decided I wasn’t going to enter the competition anymore. I gave up. I’d never been shortlisted, never been able to go to the amazing awards ceremony I’d heard so much about.

My older brother changed my mind. He said to me, “Do it for me. Try one more time.” I wasn’t going to take part, but then the most devastating thing that could have happened actually happened. He died.

All of a sudden, I didn’t have a brother anymore. The one person who truly believed in me, and my potential, was gone. But I wasn’t going to let it be in vain. So I wrote a story, his story, and submitted it.

I didn’t hear anything for weeks, thought I’d been unsuccessful again but next thing I knew an email came through saying I’d been shortlisted and invited to the virtual awards ceremony, due to lockdown. So, the day of the event came, third and second place were announced, and then… “The winner of the Upper Secondary age category is Keys by Claire”.

I won. After 5 years of entering and not being shortlisted, I won the Voices creative writing competition.

The next year, I became a young judge, which was an incredible experience to actually be able to attend the awards in person. And this year, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to co-host the awards.

So, how do you get there? Write something. Anything. Something that fits the theme, but is also unique to you. To give you some inspiration, I’ve written a poem (see below). I’m sure you can do much better than this, so go for it! Enter, and see if this year is your year.

Good luck to all of you, and hopefully I will see some of you soon!

Claire x

Writing is a simple way to
Highlight your feelings every day.
Are you a poet, a songwriter, or a teller of tales?
Talking about princesses, or magical whales.

Making up a fantasy land
And fighting pirates, sword in hand.
Keeping true to your story
Even if it’s grim and gory.
See if you can seize the glory!

Memory Lane can be hard to repeat
Especially if the story isn’t complete.

Don’t let anything get in your way
It’s possible to do everything today!
Fly up in the sky with fairies galore,
Figure out the mysteries behind a secret door.
Everyone is different, it’s not bad to be
Reminded that there’s something special about you and me.
Especially if you’ve experienced care
Nothing that you went through is fair.
Take part in CORAM’s competition now to make our judges gasp and wow!