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
Here we are in a country that we thought we could call home, a place to accomplish our dreams and to work to support our families back in our countries. Most of us chose to overstay after our visas expired so we could continue to work. But little did we know that doing that is the wrong decision as it only makes matters worse.
When you are undocumented your choices are limited and you cannot access help from the government or services, so you end up doing exploitative and underpaid jobs.
It is difficult to get affordable accommodation close to your job as the rent is very high and your meagre wages aren’t sufficient to pay the rent. So you end up having to travel very far to find cheap houses where you can afford the rent. Then you have to commute on long journeys to get to work and half of your wages are spent on travelling.
Your health is also at risk because of Covid and you are also putting the health of others at risk by not staying at home because you still have to carry on working in order to survive.
The world is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Scientists have discovered vaccines to treat the virus and the government are rolling it out to every adult in the UK. There was a campaign for undocumented migrants to be eligible for the vaccine and the government has agreed that everyone regardless of their status should access it and won't get deported. Even though the government said that there won't be any checks on migrants, a lot of them are still scared to come forward to be vaccinated and so are still posing a health risk to the public and to all those who have been vaccinated.
We are too scared to ask our employers for a pay rise in case they tell us to leave. If you are doing a live-in job, your employer is too scared to let you go out, even if it is just to get a bit of fresh air. They fear that you might catch Covid and infect them as well. You have to stay locked up in the house every day as if you are a prisoner, plus you have to deal with the problems of your own families and kids back home who are depending on you as the main breadwinner.
Then there is the problem of getting signed up to a GP. There is the barrier of feeling unable to change to a GP closer to where you live because of the fear that they will ask for ID and proof of address and this will stop you from accessing the service at all. Being undocumented is very hard and thinking about becoming undocumented is very hard.
I think undocumented migrants are invisible heroes as they are the ones who suffer a lot in silence because they are too scared to speak out or ask for help.
They are living in deplorable and overcrowded conditions where they have to share houses with lots of people, sometimes a maximum of ten people or more. And there is the sharing of one toilet and one kitchen which isn't safe during a pandemic.
But what can they do, they don't have choice so they just have to continue living an invisible life.
I think undocumented migrants should be given Indefinite Leave to Remain for their bravery during the pandemic and receive special recognition because when others have been safe working from home during the pandemic, just like essential workers they are risking their health to survive.
Giving undocumented migrants Indefinite Leave to Remain will give them security to be able to rent proper accommodation or own their own homes. It will give them access to legal jobs where they can work and pay tax and pay into a pension. They would be able to access medical help if sick and to be able to get surgery if they have to without being charged. This will prevent them from avoiding seeking medical help because of fear that they will not be able to afford to pay.
I want to live in a world where all undocumented people can be free and be like everybody else, a world of equal rights and status.
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’.