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
PLEASE QUESTION YOUR MISCONCEPTIONS
The feeling of being an outsider cannot be understood until it's felt. You fear that you are only welcome when you are the version of yourself that they like. The pressure, the judgement and the desperation to feel accepted, is crushing. You implode. You try to fit into a society that doesn't have space for you, unless you are needed. You can't be understood when they are so certain that they already understand. Your individuality is irrelevant when they identify you with stereotypes and presumptions and generalisations. As an impressionable 11-year-old girl, I leaned into all my stereotypes because it made me feel: understood, liked, relatable. I wear the taffeta dress, I agree politely, I smile sweetly as if I'm not currently suffering from an identity crisis. I contemplate whether I would be a completely different person if I came to this country later in my life. Of course, I would. I saw a society that didn't reflect my culture and my experiences but I kept telling myself that I could belong; regardless of our differences. There's an ocean between my external self and ... me. Will I ever stop feeling like an outsider?
The girl with the ecstatic smile and her library books and her gleaming school shoes and her big group of friends, felt lonely. Setting, discrimination, bias and injustice aside, this girl just wanted to be herself; not representative of or represented by, factors that are arbitrary. "What did the colour of my skin, the shape of my eyes or the ethnicity box that I ticked, have anything to do with the unique person that I am," she asked. "Everything," they answered. Always being a minority in the room means that it is demanded of you to have a voice that is representative of a rich, fascinating and complicated culture. It's scary when your seat at the table is contingent on understanding someone else's culture and experiences. Exclusion because of your differences and 'otherness'. You are invited to a costume party and the theme is to dress like a British person.
I am proud of my cultural background and I accept that it's a part of me, but tolerance and diversity should look like, learning about each other’s cultures and embracing it. We should not be colour-blind and tone-deaf to the cultural moment and our innate differences. When the cashier at my favourite local café backed away from the counter and openly said, "I am not taking these customers with Corona,"(clearly differentiating me from the previous white customers) my eyes were aggressively pulled open; to fully absorb and understand the dilapidated state of racial discrimination. This is five years after I had arrived in the UK, long after the moment I called this place my home. Some may see nothing wrong with that. Let me paint you this picture. In all the picture books that I've read growing up, the princess has had blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin. I couldn't be a princess. I joined a school that played Rounder’s and Netball, sports I had never even heard of before. Naturally there's no way I can get on the A team. I couldn't do it but I learnt, didn't I. Fast forward five years, I've studied the culture, played the sport, learnt the colloquialism, spoken the accent, eaten strawberries at Wimbledon, boarded at school, lost some mates over the years, bought the tuck, worn the uniform, been to Henley and Ascot, drank the tea, taken a cab, watched the Rugby, fancied a boy, driven on the left side of the road, taken the tube, said 'sorry' unnecessarily, talked about the weather, queued in queues, asked matron to put me off games, passed CE, GCSE and doing A-levels, kept my emotions at bay, appreciated the NHS, folded crisps into a sandwich but how come I still feel so foreign, so 'othered'. So, I wonder if I will ever feel at home, feel included, feel recognised for more than just my labels. Disclaimer, I refer to 'they' as some people, not all people.
Is this temporary? Do I grow out of it? I feel very privileged to have made friends and found people of which I align with morally, politically, philanthropically and in terms of ideas regarding social change. We learnt about each other’s cultures, experiences and hardships and although we are completely unique and unable to relate, we created a space for people standing at the intersections of communities, with equally important voices.
Thank you, truly, for taking the time to hear my story.
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’.