The TogetherintheUK’s Story-Telling Competition has now closed!
No further submissions will be accepted at this time
Thank you to those who have entered. We will keep the voting panel open for a further two weeks before selecting the winning shortlisted entries which will be presented to the judges.
You can still vote for your favourite stories, poems and essays for the next two weeks until Sunday, 16th May, after which we shall close voting and shortlist the entries to be submitted to the judges to select our final winners in the various categories on the 8th July 2021. Good Luck all!
Please do read up on the judges below the submissions
9- This year I entered both my ninth year in the UK and my ninth house. I’m living an imposed nomadic life; an experience I share with many people my generation. Forget the property ladder, all we want is a room of one’s own.
I grew too big, I think; my life expanded in ways I hadn’t plan for. I hate that, I hate that women are meant to feel small, to become small, and to have small possessions by default. Our personalities are meant to fit a size 6, our voices are meant to live inside our heads. We are our own worse enemies, that’s what society would like us to think. No. Think big.
I arrived in this country with two suitcases and a rucksack. I remember almost being sent to Dublin at Heathrow airport when my fresh from the airplane accent could hardly pronounce the tube stop I had to head for. The tube doesn’t take you to many places in São Paulo, my hometown, and I was marvelled to see how the landscape changed all the way to Zone 6.
1- My new house had stairs, stairs! I had lived in flats all my life; São Paulo is built upwards – is like Brazilians are trying to reach the sky. My previous life had been flat, no steps; in London, my room was in the second floor. My arms ached when I reached the small square I was to call room. I had a single bed, I was used to that, that’s how it had been back home, living with my mum.
2-I moved again in December and my cab fought the snow on a Friday night, charging me extra for the ride. I almost froze to death on the first night, I didn’t have any bedding – I shivered under the sheets. It was a three-bed flat without a living room; I used to dry my clothes on the radiators and my mum was worried about the humidity. I had a double bed and two housemates who became friends.
3- I finally left the sticks and moved to zone three, to live in a house with no friends and a mouse. My room had a lock, the landlord was always about, my housemates changed on a weekly basis. I had dinner with my mum most nights, chatting to her over Skype. I moved out in the speed of light; I arranged my few belongings in a couple of boxes and ‘ran’ for dear life.
4- My new house could pass for a hostel, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends lived there, Australians, Argentines, teachers and actors. We’d shoot films in the bathroom, danced with the lamp and did yoga anywhere. The shower leaked in the kitchen, we didn’t dare go to the basement, we had a trampoline in the back garden. It was a weird time; it was a fun time. But our lease was up and the musical chairs that is the renting market in London started again.
5- ‘The dream house’ was the next one; we weren’t the most obvious fit, but somehow, we felt the four of us would work. We had parties, I had too much absinth, we’d go in each other’s rooms and talked about music and films. This place had no leaks, no mice, no funny noises, the house was functional – it was a shame that we weren’t. Eventually the cracks that we could barely see in the beginning of the year became obvious to everyone. That group, in the shape that it was, couldn’t go on; we had to re-arrange our formation.
6- I moved South of the river for the first time; I downgraded to a single bed, timing was bad, I finally had a boyfriend to share a bed with. My stuff was everywhere, it didn’t fit in the bedroom. ‘I was taking up space,’ said my housemate - I had a chair. ‘Coming over here’ and placing my belongings on freshly clean carpets, that was me.
7- London favourites monogamy, it’s much cheaper to share a room with someone. I too jumped on that boat. It came naturally to me, living with a boy, with my partner, my other half – whatever people call it. We had our space, I didn’t have to ask for permission, I didn’t have to check, we could just talk amongst ourselves. I didn’t have to be ‘on’ all the time, I could just be.
8- Then my partner bought a house, and I thought ‘that’s it, no more moving around.’ I could feel my shoulders drop, I would never have to put my things in a box, book a van or get bubble wrap. I could put nails on the wall, I would be able to actually decorate, put my prints on frames. It was ours; it was home.
But regardless of the work that was put into it, it didn’t work – not the house, but us. As the world fell apart, so did we, and I had to choose what things to keep. This continuous process involves forced spring cleans, trips to the charity shop, selling things online, binning old birthday cards.
9- As I noticed myself having to shrink, to make things fit, I realized how I can actually carry the biggest things within. I can inflate all of my posessions in an invisible way; they don’t take actual space. The family, the friends that I made, the memories, the drunk nights and park walks, dancing in the kitchen, because, why not? All of this lives within me. They have carried me all this time, and I them.
They are just a screen away, and elbow shake. Through all those moves, they were there, in all my homes – because that’s what they are. All those rooms morphed into something meaningful, because life is what you carry inside. The memories, the friends, the books I read; I carry them in my heart.
Meet the Judges
Director, British Future
Sunder is the Director of British Future, a thinktank with a particular interest in migration. His career includes working as a Commissioning Editor at MacMillan, he has worked as a journalist and leader writer for the Observer. His parents came to the UK from Ireland and India to work for the NHS. TogetherintheUK is very pleased that Sunder has agreed to be a judge as someone who will be able to judge what works on a literary level and who has a deep understanding of migration.
Sunder says, ‘Sharing and hearing personal stories can often be the most effective way to build empathy and understanding, so I very much look forward to seeing what the competition brings’.
Founder and Executive Director
Nazek started Migrant Voice ten years ago when she identified that migrants were scapegoated and talked about and that migrants needed to speak out and be part of that debate taking place about them without them. Migrant Voice is a campaigning organisation speaking out on issues of injustice and working to strengthen different communities. Nazek is originally from Lebanon so understands migration very well both from her own personal experience and as a campaigner. TogetherintheUK is very pleased that Nazek has agreed to be a judge on the Creative Writing competition as someone whose organisation has just published a fantastic ebook, celebrating Black History in the West Midlands and someone with deep insight into migration. Nazek has kindly donated a place on her Media Lab programme to one lucky winner.
Nazek says, ‘ Migrant Voice has led on lots of different campaigns over the years, all geared to developing migrant voices sometimes through arts and poetry, through engaging with the media or through images. Its therefore obvious to me that I would want to encourage more voices, more creativity so of course, I want to be a judge on the TogetherinthUK competition.’
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Dubs came to Britain from Czechoslovakia in 1939 on the Kindertransport. He is a Labour politician having spent many years as the Labour MP for Battersea and he is now in the House of Lords.
Lord Dubs says ‘I am delighted to be a judge for TogetherintheUk’s creative writing competition 2020. I know from my own experience how disorientating it can be to arrive in a new country and I think it is fabulous that the competition will give migrant children the chance to write about their own experiences. This is an opportunity for children to tell your own stories about what it was like for them and what helped them get through this challenging time. I am really looking forward to the difficult task of choosing the best poem or story and seeing all entries published by TogetherintheUK’.
Public Relations Officer of the NCBA
Tyrone Roach is the Public Relations Officer of the NCBA – National Council of Barbadian Associations UK, an umbrella group for Barbadian Association in the United Kingdom. Where he has previously served as Chairman; He is also Chairperson of the Barbados Overseas Community Friends Association
Presently he is UK correspondent for the Barbados Nation Newspaper, a publication he has written for periodically over ten years, with responsibility for UK content, Editorial, advertising and Distribution – Online and in print
He has been responsible for several large events in the Barbadian community in England, where he worked closely with the Barbados High Commission. Events include the Independence Panel discussion, Barbados Forward Thinkers – Youth Seminar, A lil bit of Bim and the Barbados day event in Ipswich, both EXPO of Caribbean culture and products
His experience of working with connecting migrants from the Caribbean to the UK with their country of origin has given him a depth of knowledge of the challenges and joys of migration, plus, of course, he knows good writing. Hopefully!
Tyrone says, ‘ I am looking forward to seeing the creativity in the under 18 category I know that these young people will have their own, unique perspectives – and this will enable me to see how society has changed significantly over the last year’.
Professor of Economics and Public Policy
Jonathan is a Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College, London. His current research is on labour mobility both within and outside the European Union. He is a much published author both of academic books and articles in the press. He is well qualified to act as a judge in the TogetherintheUK creative writing competition as someone who has lived in both the USA and the UK and whose many talents include synthesizing complex topics like migration into something easily understood by most of us.
Jonathan says ‘I am continually fascinated by how and why people migrate and their experiences so I am very much looking forward to reading the entries and I am sure that I will be inspired by what people write’.
CEO and Founder
David Marshall founded Marshalls Elearning Consultancy in 2002. It specialises in diversity bringing together technology with experts in diversity. Marshalls provides all kinds of creative products to the market, all of which are designed to help organisations become more inclusive and diverse – constantly developing the ability to listen to different voices. David has very generously donated a Chromebook as the Marshall’s prize.
David says, ‘I am a sponsor of TogetherintheUK’s work as I love how they find different stories from different people, I have learnt so much from reading them about how people arrive in the UK and what works for them in building their lives here. I was delighted to be asked to be a judge on the competition as I want to know more’.
Consuelo is the publisher of the Victorina Press, she is a writer of poetry and short stories both in Spanish and English. She is Chilean/British and an academic and a publisher. She came to the UK in 1992 and before leaving Chile, she was an active political campaigner against the regime of General Pinochet. The mission of Victorina Press is to publish ‘inspirational books’. TogetherintheUK is delighted that Consuelo has agreed to be judge, as someone with personal experience of migration, a publisher and an author.
Consuelo says, ‘I love poetry and I love to read original work so I am very much looking forward to the creativity that I am sure will pour out of people when they sit down to write their entries’.